Saturday, May 14, 2016

Album Reviews: Lena Horne, Freddie Hubbard

Here are two good albums. I'm pretty sure I bought both of them in the summer of 1989 at a used-record store on Bardstown Road in Louisville.

I learned from Wikipedia today that It's Love by Lena Horne with Lennie Hayton and "His orchestra" (that's really how they capitalized it on the cover) was released in 1955 and was her first complete studio album. The liner notes by Fred Reynolds ranks Horne's "crystal-clear enunciation" in the Frank Sinatra class. The album includes 11 songs, all pleasant. Actually, "Frankie and Johnny" is not pleasant at all--it's about some woman whose lover cheats on her, so she shoots him six times. It's not my thing, and I would rather it was not on the album. The rest is a smooth collection of short love songs--my favorite is probably the title track, which is actually the last song on the album, but, truthfully, I don't really separate the numbers--that are expertly sung and perfect for a 21-year-old to put on an imagine what being married might be like. 

Lena Horne and Lennie Hayton ... wow! Man, there's a musical for you right there.

At the end of that summer in Louisville, one of the editors at The Courier-Journal had all of us interns and several other members of the newsroom over to his house for a pool party. Oh, I was so nervous to go to that thing, and I really do still get embarrassed thinking about some of the ways I acted out that night in my awkwardness. Well, anyway, at one point during the event, some music was playing over the backyard speakers that caught my attention, and I asked the host who the performer was. It was Freddie Hubbard; I'd never heard of him. So I went out not long after that to the Bardstown Road shop and found this album, Straight Life. I don't think I'd ever listened to it all the way through until today, and I don't think I'd ever paid a lick of attention to the cover design. Anyway, it's quite good if you're in the mood for 35 mostly unbroken minutes of "soul/funk influenced jazz" (Wikipedia's phrase). And I'm excited to see that it's going to come out in November 1970; rich Hoptown 1970 me will have to pick that up later this year.

One more thing about Freddie Hubbard of Indianapolis, from Wikipedia the Great:

I think Matthew would give It's Love by Lena Horna, Lennie Hayton and His orchestra and Straight Life by Freddie Hubbard 2 stars each.


  1. It's striking how different these two albums are, but both seem entertaining in their own way. Have to admit though the Freddie Hubbard felt a bit harsh after listening to that track from Lena Horne.

  2. Yeah, they're not much alike at all. I'm working through re-ordering my albums by the years they were released, so I think I might do a few of these posts during this process.