Immediately after leaving Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard formed his own quintet and set the modern jazz world on its collective ear with this incredible album. Beyond hard bop and into early creative territory, Hubbard explored a sonic deliverance based on his fiery personality and a refusal to stand still or be satisfied with standardized phrasings and nomenclature. His effective teaming with the unique alto saxophonist James Spaulding and pianist Ronnie Mathews is particularly telling, as this set of Hubbard originals and one from drummer Joe Chambers constitutes some of the most powerful jazz music of this time period. The expansive style of Andrew Hill is identifiable especially during the title track, with the piano of Mathews leading a startling charge of several short and swift mini-theme clarion bursts, moving into calypso. This is one of the more astonishing pieces ever conceived in modern music. "Blue Frenzy" and "D Minor Mint" both display uncanny original themes within mainstream frameworks, bearing the stamp of Hubbard's fierce approach to post-Dizzy Gillespie-type trumpet. The former piece is an easy 24-bar blues activated into cool constraints via the style of Horace Silver but fired up by the antics of Mathews, while the latter track sports a chatty melody, humorously cackling onward. "Far Away" is the most intriguing piece rhythmically and sonically, moving from 6/4 and 3/4 to 12/6, again similar to Andrew Hill's harmonic concept with Spaulding's piquant flute accenting a hip, agile melody. The pure energy Hubbard injected into this ensemble, and the sheer originality of this music beyond peers like Miles Davis and Lee Morgan, identified Hubbard as the newest of new voices on his instrument. Breaking Point has stood the test of time as a recording far ahead of mid-'60s post-bop, and is an essential item for all listeners of incendiary progressive jazz. [Some reissues offer alternate takes of "Blue Frenzy" and the pretty Joe Chambers composition "Mirrors," wavering via Spaulding's flute, a reaching-for-the-stars ballad that has become a standard.] ~ Michael G. Nastos
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