Monday, December 29, 2008

Freddie Hubbard (1938-2008)

Freddie Hubbard, one of the great trumpet players of the modern jazz era, died today in Los Angeles. He was 70. He had suffered a heart attack last month.

As the Los Angeles Times reports in its obituary, Hubbard “was present on many of the most significant jazz albums of the ’60s, among them Ornette Coleman’s ‘Free Jazz,’ John Coltrane’s ‘Ascension,’ Eric Dolphy’s ‘Out to Lunch,’ Oliver Nelson’s ‘Blues and the Abstract Truth,’ Wayne Shorter’s ‘Speak No Evil’ and Herbie Hancock’s ‘Maiden Voyage.’ ”

Hubbard was a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers from 1961 to 1964. One of my favorite Blakey tracks from this period is “Thermo,” composed by Hubbard. Click here to stream it on my Vox blog, because it is blazing hot. (Wayne Shorter burns on his solo as well.)

Freddie Hubbard had a prolific career as a leader during the ’60s and ’70s. Click here to hear “Crisis” from his 1961 Blue Note album “Ready for Freddie.”

We’ve lost so many of our best this year.


Sam said...

Aw no. Red Clay was one of the most badass records I've ever heard. And his playing on the VSOP album (Miles' 60s band minus Miles) was amazing. One of the true greats who never got his due.

I think he had some sort of ailment and retired at one point, didn't he? A shame.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ He had lip problems that kept him from playing for years.

bumpster said...

Sad to hear. I bought a ticket to see him at UOP in the 70's. He was touring with an all white fusion outfit. He and his band were two hours late for the gig. Mr. Hubbard was not happy. At one point he stopped playing and shut down the band. He chewed out his bass player then re started the tune. Several minutes later he apologized for playing rock music when he knew we came for bebop. Finally about three fourths through the show he declared, "There are only two white men, in my opinion who can play the blues. Bill Evans and Gerry Mulligan." This comment admitting his disgust with playing music for guys faking the funk for me defined the difference between fusion and jazz, Rock and R&B and so forth.

Mes Deux Cents said...


"We’ve lost so many of our best this year."

I really can't remember a year that so many true superstars departed at once.

Other than the election of you-know-who, 2008 will be known for the loss of greatness.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Oh sheeiit! One of my all-timers. This one REALLY hurts. Sam, on the money, Red Clay is so baad. During his brooding days, Kareem was once asked what was he thinking about while he paced before the game. Kareem's answer? Red Clay.

Great recap and post, Dave. Getting ready to play White Rabbit. That CTI shit that Freddie and them did is on par with Blue Note.

Dougfp said...

I saw Freddie at Catalina's in April, his last L.A. gig. I was hoping he could find some of the old fire, but it was not to be. I knew he was in trouble when he brought another trumpeter with him to play the choruses and most of the lead parts. The band was actually quite good, but Freddie laid out on most numbers and when he did play was only a dim shadow of what he once was. I felt embarrassed for him, yet knew the problems he was suffering and was glad just to see him (apparently) enjoying himself.

I wish I had seen him in his prime. The guy could play.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

One other thing. Freddie was Funk Age. The thing about Funk Age was how these great disciplined trained musicians embraced the technology. Listen to that shit and you hear the same chords but with some electricity - literally. But Freddie doesn't get enough credit for the innovative shit he was part of. Long live Freddie!!!

Undercover Black Man said...

^ DeAng, I found some Funk Age Freddie for my upper-right corner... from 1975 with Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, Lenny White and Airto.

I must say I'm into his hard-bop shit to a much deeper degree, though. That stuff hits harder than funk, to me.

novelera said...

I saw Freddie Hubbard at the now-defunct Keystone Corner in North Beach in San Francisco in the 80's. The only word that comes to mind is transcendent. People didn't breathe, much less speak, while his group played. I felt wonderful for days.