Trumpeter/composer Freddie Hubbard is kinda like that little restaurant down the street, the comedian that still makes the talk show/comedy club circuit, that city or national monument that you always mean to get around to seeing - in other words, something good, dependable, but doesn't get the attention & appreciation it deserves because it's ALWAYS been there - you take it for granted. Many people when they think Hubbard, they quite-rightly think the classic Blue Note dates he led & contributed to in the 1960s, or the underrated proto-crossover jazz he recorded with CTI in the early 70s.
His recordings for Atlantic, though, are rough, overlooked, under-appreciated gems that capture jazz at a crossroads. The music was being pulled in seemingly divergent directions: hard bop/mainstream, funk, fusion, free/avant-garde. (Also factor in the specters of rock and soul/R&B music, the civil unrest and Black Nationalism of the period - and many tried to navigate a path that was not easy to sum-up with a catch-word or 2). That's where 1970's THE BLACK ANGEL comes in - originally issued on Atlantic & re-issued by Koch in 2000.
Leading a sharp, volatile yet centered sextet - James Spauding, Kenny Barron, Reggie Workman, Louis Hayes, and Patato Valdes - Hubbard harnesses all the aforementioned energy sources, filtering them through his own style. (I think Hubbard's Atlantic discs outshine even his Blue Note ones, mainly because he tended to push the envelope a bit more with Atlantic.) ANGEL crackles, joining hard bop grace & unity with churning rhythms, anguished free music-charged solos and judicious, shimmering electronics. But in 1970, Miles' BITCHES BREW and damn near everything else in that Mad Time eclipsed this fine platter. OK world, you have another chance. Three thumbs up!