VARIOUS ARTISTS / “Little Sunflower”

On December 29, 2009 trumpeter Freddie Hubbard made his transition. Joining his long gone buddy Lee Morgan, their mutual mentor Dizzy Gillespie and their immediate precursor Clifford Brown in an out of sight, spiritual trumpet section where-so-ever they be blowing.
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Known for the style and swagger of his blazing trumpet solos but also known for the beauty of his flugelhorn work on down-tempo selections, Freddie Hubbard gave the jazz world a handful of perennial standards, chief among them is “Little Sunflower.” The song has a gorgeous melody with a lilting roll that is irresistible.

We present six versions including the most popular version, which was recorded under the leadership of Milt Jackson.

Milt spent so many years in the Modern Jazz Quartet that most people never heard him outside of the strictures of the tightly arranged MJQ format. Jackson’s 1973 CTI album with the beautiful cover photograph by Pete Turner was undoubtedly his most popular recording outside the MJQ format, due in no small part to the magnificence of the band members: Herbie Hancock on keys, Ron Carter on bass, Billy Cobham on drums, Ralph MacDonald on percussion, and Don Sebesky strings & horns arranger.

Two of the six selections are under the leadership of women, pianist Claudia Burson and Dorothy Ashby. In any selection of jazz tunes women are usually under-represented. Take note that Dorothy Ashby not only plays harp in a beautiful, albeit short, rendition, Ms. Ashby is from Detroit. The significance of Detroit is that Alice Coltrane is also from Detroit. Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane are the two major jazz harpists.

This line-up offers us a good chance to compare and contrast vocalist Dwight Tribble, Al Jarreau and Leon Thomas—talk about a delightful dilemma choosing which we like best.

Finally, we also get a chance to listen to the composer, Freddie Hubbard, blow in two different contexts. We hear Hubbard first on Milt Jackson popular recording and second on Hubbard’s own 1979 Love Connection recording.


—Kalamu ya Salaam

Little Sunflower Mixtape Playlist

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01 Sunflower - Milt Jackson

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02 Regal Covers (Live), Vol. 1 - Dwight Trible

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03 My Foolish Heart - Claudia Burson

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04 The Love Connection - Freddie Hubbard

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05 Afro Harping - Dorothy Ashby

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06 Precious Energy - Leon Thomas & Gary Bartz

This entry was posted on Monday, June 1st, 2009 at 7:48 am and is filed under Cover. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “VARIOUS ARTISTS / “Little Sunflower””

Jason Parker Says:
June 14th, 2009 at 2:08 am

Fantastic! One of my favorite songs to play, but I hadn’t heard a couple of these renditions.

Thanks once again for your insight and for turning me on to something new!

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