Hubert Laws (born November 10, 1939) is one of the most pervasive, and impressive artists to appear on Creed Taylor, CTI productions. While others, notably Bob James, Don Sebesky, and Dave Matthews through their arrangements had a bigger impact on the overall sound; and George Benson, Grover Washington, Jr, Esther Phillips, Bob James as a performer, became bigger stars and more widely known names, Hubert Laws is up their alongside Ron Carter as both a sidestar and a leader for his performances.
If we were able to have parties, I’d invite Hubert, and put on this set, and sit and just ask what the whole experience would have been like. I often put out a fourfer to celebrate an artist’s contribution, I simply couldn’t pick four tracks for Hubert Laws. What follows is a small sample of the styles and contributions Hubert made. My collection includes 113-albums that Hubert appears on, including 10x vinyl albums by Hubert, and his two earliest solo/lead recordings, from 1965, and 1966 on a Rhino Records re-issue CD.
Hubert’s 1975 “Chicago Theme” album was my first CTI album, following on from Benson’s “Supership” 45/single. After that, the flood gates opened for me and CTI. When I got a chance to talk to Bob James in person after a set at the One World Theatre in Austin TX, Jame said:
Yes, Hubert and I did some great stuff together, it would be great to play with him again.Bob James, in discussion, One World Theater, September 2018.
I can’t tell you what I’d pay to see the CTI alumni, Hubert, Bob, George Benson, Ron Carter, along with Steve Gadd, Randy Brecker, and any others we could get together in 2021. Agree?
Mix, Track list and notes
1. Walking In Space – Quincy Jones. 1969 album, same name. Epic title track featuring solos by Laws, ‘Rahsaan’ Roland Kirk, and Freddie Hubbard with vocals by Valerie Simpson. Seminal Q album, recorded at the Van Gelder studio, produced by Creed Taylor and featuring one of the earliest CTI arrangements by Bob James, “I Never Told You”.
2. Pavane – Hubert Laws. From Hubert Laws, 1972 album, “Right Of Spring”. Laws said that Don Sebesky sat in his car outside Rudy Van Gelder’s studio, and wrote the arrangements on a piece of paper with a pencil.
3. Ganawa (Blue Moses) – Randy Weston. From the album “Blue Moses”, another 1972 CTI classic, often overlooked by the more popular CTI albums of the time.
4. Let It Be – Hubert Laws. Initially announced as the first single/45 release on the newly independent CTI Records, it was issued twice as B-side(CT 501/CT 505), and featured on the first ever independent CTI album, 1970’s “Crying Song”.
5. Stand Behind Me – Johnny Hammond. From Hammond’s 1973 album Prophet, features Hubert playing an early electric flute on the Carole King classic.
6. Jama Joe – George Benson. From Benson’s 1969 album “Tell It Like It Is”, Jama Joe see’s Laws tread a road less travelled with him playing Saxaphone.
7. Amparo – Antonio Carlos Jobim. “Stone Flower”, another from the incredible 1969, 1970 period. Recorded in the spring of 1970, the track was originally from Jobim’s original soundtrack album for the film “The Adventures”. Here it is a more up-tempo interpretation.
8. Walkin’ – Quincy Jones. Again from that 1969, 1970 period, the album “Gula Matari” is the last album that Creed Produced with Quincy. Not released under the A&M CTI Moniker, most pressing and releases didn’t include the Creed Taylor signature. By the time of release Creed had left A&M and Quincy was more than capable of producing his own album. Hubert Laws went on to record on other albums with Quincy,
9. Funk In Deep Freeze – Chet Baker. Unusual track from Baker’s 1974 album “She Was Too Good To Me” and one he would sometimes use to open his later live shows. Performed and penned originally in 1957 by Hank Mobley on his album “Quintet”, Law’s preforms a solid accompanying flute to Baker’s trumpet.
10. Anything Goes – Ron Carter. The title track from Ron Carter’s 1975 KUDU album, yes, a disco and dance album, but asides from that, for me, great memories. Law’s leads out as the track gets started.
11. Airegin – Hubert Laws. Hubert Laws 1974 Album “In The Beginning”, was later released as “Then There Was Light” volume 1 and volume 2. Airegin is a cover of a Sonny Rollins track, and features both Hubert and brother Ronnie Laws, as well as Ron Carter, Bob James and Steve Gadd on drums.
12. Future Feature – Grant Green. Classic Dave Matthews fair, funky and progressive track from Grant Green’s “Main Attraction” 1976 album. Laws, along with Michael Brecker, Joe Farrell, Ronnie Cuber and others laid down the basics for the track 3-days before Grant Green went into the Van Gelder Studio to overdub his guitar. It is said that Green had not heard either “Future Feature” or the title track, “Main Attraction” before he recorded them.
13. The Chicago Theme (Love Loop) – Hubert Laws. Always and forever for me, the title track from his 1975 album, that also feature “Inflation Chaser”. Classic Bob James arrangements, full on studio orchestra which included Bob James, Ron Carter, Stanley Clarke, Steve Gadd, Joe Beck, Eric Gale, Phil Upchurch, Michael and Randy Brecker, David Sanborn as well as many of the regular CTI string section including Harry Lookofsky.
Who is Hubert Laws?
Laws career spans an amazing 60-years in jazz, classical, and other occasional foray’s into rock and pop music genres. If I started to go through all the reference material I have for Hubert, I wouldn’t get this posted until his birthday in 2021. Fortunately, I don’t have to. Dr. David Schroeder of the NYU Steinhardt Jazz Studies has a great interview on youtube from 2017 where Hubert covers his career from Houston to California, to New York and beyond.
As well as winning a scholarship to New York’s Juilliard School of Music in 1960, he studied music both in the classroom and with master flutist Julius Baker, and played with both the New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (member) and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, 1969–72, while continuing to master jazz music. Hubert attend high school in Houston, Texas with the founding members of the Crusaders and played with them from 1954 to 1960.
Happy Birthday Hubert Laws, thanks for all the great music and the memories that go with them.
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