Hubert Laws is one of the most acclaimed and versatile flautists in jazz history. He has recorded over 40 albums as a leader and collaborated with many legendary artists such as Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder. He is also a classical musician who has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera and the London Symphony Orchestra.
One of his finest albums is Morning Star, released in 1972 on the CTI label. Produced by Creed Taylor and arranged by Don Sebesky, the album showcases Laws' soulful and expressive playing on a variety of tunes, ranging from jazz originals to pop covers to spirituals. The album features a stellar cast of musicians, including Ron Carter on bass, Bob James on electric piano, Billy Cobham and Ralph McDonald on drums, John Tropea on guitar and Dave Friedman on vibraphone and percussion. The album also features vocal contributions from Laws' sisters Debra and Eloise, as well as Lani Groves and Tasha Thomas.
The title track of Morning Star is a beautiful and uplifting jazz composition by Laws, with a catchy melody and a smooth groove. Laws' flute introduces the theme, followed by a tasteful solo by James on electric piano. The strings and brass add a rich texture to the arrangement, creating a contrast between the mellow and the majestic. Laws' own solo is full of grace and elegance, blending classical and jazz influences.
Another highlight of the album is Laws' rendition of \"Where Is The Love\", a popular song by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. Laws' flute adds a new dimension to the melody, as he improvises soulfully around it. James provides subtle accompaniment on electric piano, while Carter anchors the rhythm section with his solid bass lines. The strings enhance the romantic mood of the song, without being too sentimental.
The album also features a stunning version of \"Amazing Grace\", the traditional hymn that has been sung by many artists across genres. Laws plays the melody in a low register on his flute, creating a solemn and reverent atmosphere. James joins him on electric piano, adding some harmonic variations to the chords. The strings enter softly, adding a touch of Celtic flavor to the arrangement. A harp duets with Laws on the third verse, creating a heavenly sound. Carter changes the tempo and introduces a swing feel to the song, giving it a new energy and vitality. Laws' solo is inspired and adventurous, incorporating elements of Bach and bebop. He returns to the folk roots of the song at the end, closing it with a solo flute cadenza.
Morning Star is a masterpiece of jazz fusion, blending different styles and genres with taste and sophistication. It showcases Hubert Laws' virtuosity and versatility as a flautist, as well as his creativity and originality as a composer and arranger. It is an album that deserves to be heard by all music lovers.