May 29, 2024

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1976 John Stubblefield recorded on a superb album led by Nat Adderley called Don’t Look Back: Photos, Videos

John Stubblefield always struggled for recognition. The obscure saxophonist was versatile and could play soul-jazz, funk-jazz and avant-garde jazz in the 1970s and beyond.

Which probably is why he recorded with so many different types of artists and groups over the course of his career. Stubblefield brought enormous heat and polish to his solos, often sounding different with each artist. He recorded with Anthony Braxton in May 1972, toured with Charles Mingus in early 1973 and recorded with Miles Davis on Get Up With It in September ’73. Dollar Brand, Roy Brooks, Mtume, McCoy Tuner, Gill Evans, Lester Bowie, Stanley Cowell and Reggie Lucas followed between 1973 and mid-1976.

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In August 1976, Stubblefield recorded on a superb album led by Nat Adderley called Don’t Look Back. The group included Adderley (cnt); Makanda Ken McIntyre (b-cl,as,fl,oboe); Stubblefield (ts,sop); Onaje Allan Gumbs (p,el-p,clavinet); Fernando Gumbs (b); Buddy Williams (d) and Victor See-Yuen (perc).

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Don’t Look Back
 is completely in tune with the soulful times but retains a jazz flavor throughout. Stubblefield fires up his soprano sax on Funny, Funny; I Think I Got It; Just a Quickie and Home. He solos on tenor sax on K. High and the title track, which was written by Harold Vick. [Photo above of Nat Adderley]

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As you’ll hear, Adderley and Stubblefield (above) were made for each other. It’s remarkable how well they play on this album (and their followup album, Hummin’, recorded in October 1976). And that was it. After Hummin’, each went his separate way. Stubblefield recorded his first solo album, Prelude, later that year and would record seven additonal terrific leadership recordings while continuing to stay busy as a sideman. His playing was always exceptional. The fact that he isn’t a household name today is somewhat unfortunate and sad.

Nat Adderley died in 2000; John Stubblefield died in 2005.

The full album, a sensational recording that reflected its funky, soulful times but retained a juice jazz flavor…

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