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Leonard “Hub” Hubbard was the founding bassist of the Roots, playing in the group from 1992 to 2007. He lost a long battle with cancer in December 2021.

Photo by Ginny Suss

As a member of the Roots, Leonard “Hub” Hubbard created a vocabulary for live hip-hop.

What’s in a name? How do names define us and the lives we live? Within my culture, everybody has both a given and “chosen name.” A hub is literally the central part of a wheel, but symbolically it’s that thing around which all motion happens. Hub, aka Leonard Hubbard, was the original bassist in the Roots, and one could argue that if hip-hop had a hub, it would be bass. Sadly, Hub lost his long battle with cancer in December 2021.

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Gregg Allman''s son carves a path all his own

Devon Allman’s Honeytribe
Space Age Blues
Provogue Records

By blending ’70s soul, Memphis R&B, and slinky minor-key grooves, Devon Allman has found a way to extend his family’s amazing musical lineage on his own terms. His gravelly voice may be reminiscent of his father, Gregg Allman, but the similarity ends there. (Musically, that is—the physical resemblance is unmistakable.) This Allman plays guitar with a high-gain edge and slashing tone that suggests Gary Moore rather than uncle Duane. With his wailing harp, Huey Lewis lends a bluesy touch to the album’s opening track, but despite the title, Space Age Blues is more about vintage funk and psychedelic rock than blues. Elements of Free (especially Paul Kossoff’s fast, intense vibrato), Mountain, mid-’70s Stevie Wonder (Allman covers “Sir Duke”), and even Quicksilver Messenger Service swirl and coalesce in Allman’s music, yet he delivers these retro influences with a 21st-century flair. To paraphrase Billie Holiday, this child has got his own.

We guitarists can learn a lot from such soul-jazz organists as the incomparable Jimmy Smith. Ready to explore some classic B-3 moves? Break out the swirl box and have at it!

When it comes to comping, we guitarists can learn a lot from B-3 and electric piano players. I’ve always been inspired by how ace keyboardists use inversions and subtle substitutions to create harmonic and rhythmic motion inside the tune’s basic changes. You hear this wheels-within-wheels approach in old-school R&B, blues, and soul-jazz.

For example, imagine a band is vamping on a dominant 7 chord for two measures, marking time until the next chord change. To spur harmonic momentum, a B-3 player might play a series of secondary chords that color the primary dominant 7 chord. Though the essential harmony is static during this two-bar section, we hear chordal movement. What’s going on?

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