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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

r.i.p. Freddie Hubbard

Freddie Hubbard died yesterday. Thanks for all the music! We'll kiss your black ass!

Incredible to think about all the great albums he turns up:
Herbie Hancock (Empyrean Isles, Maiden Voyage)
Eric Dolphy (Out to Lunch, Outward Bound)
John Coltrane (Olé Coltrae, Ascension)
Ornette Coleman (Free Jazz)
Art Blakey (Free for All is a favourite here, but he's on many others, too)
as well as albums by Andrew Hill, Tina Brooks, Kenny Drew, Curtis Fuller, Dexter Gordon, Bill Evans, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Sam Rivers, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Hutcherson, Max Roach, Duke Pearson, Stanley Turrentine, Randy Weston, Quincy Jones, and even Count Basie!

An incredible discography!

On top of that, he made some fine albums as a leader, including early ones for Blue Note, such as Open Sesame (with Tina Brooks), Goin' Up (with Hank Mobley & McCoy Tyner), Here to Stay (with Wayne Shorter), Hub Cap (with a sextet for once, including Julian Priester and his longtime sidekick James Spaulding), and the marvellous Ready for Freddie (with Shorter, Tyner, Art Davis, Elvin Jones, and Bernard McKinney on the euphonium). In between his Blue Note albums (Hub-Tones, Breaking Point and Blue Spirits were to follow, the first two quintets with Spaulding, the later adding Joe Henderson and others), Hubbard put down three albums for Impulse (including The Body and The Soul, a showcase where he's backed by larger bands, including strings on some titles, and Dolphy on a few as well).
In 1965, he collaborated with Lee Morgan, recording the infamous two-volume Night of the Cookers for Blue Note (I know it's not everybody's favourite, but I just love it!). In the late sixties, Hubbard recorded for Atlantic, the label of his then employer, Max Roach (Freddie plays on Roach's great Drums Unlimited album, Spaulding was part of that band, too, as well as former Blakey bassist and composer of the great "Nommo", Jymie Merritt).
From 1970 on, Hubbard was signed to CTI. The style of music he made had changed by that time. Red Clay and Straight Life though - even if they're somewhat bound to their time - are definitely among his finest albums. They feature sidemen such as Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Ron Carter, Lenny White, George Benson or Jack DeJohnette. Hubbard also started working regularly with tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. By the second half of the seventies, a decline was obvious, though, with Hubbard recording drab albums including disco rhythms. Though that's not the end of the story yet...
Around 1980, Hubbard got his act together again, recording fine straight jazz once more, for instance on Outpost, where he's the lone horn, backed by Kenny Barron. In the mid eighties, he also collaborated with Woody Shaw for two albums on the revived Blue Note label. A last album that garnered fine reviews in the jazz press was 2001's New Colors, which found Hubbard in the company of the New Jazz Composers Octet.

Here's the obit from the LATimes (source):

Freddie Hubbard, jazz trumpeter, dies at 70
By Don Heckman
December 30, 2008

Freddie Hubbard, widely regarded as the most gifted jazz trumpeter of the post-bebop '60s and '70s, died Monday at Sherman Oaks Hospital in Los Angeles. He was 70.

The cause of death was attributed to complications from a heart attack he suffered Nov. 26, according to Dave Weiss, his longtime manager.

From the beginning, Hubbard's playing was characterized by its strength and assurance, its capacity to roam confidently across the trumpet's entire range, and his gift for spontaneous melodic invention.

He was barely out of his teens in the late 1950s and working with such established jazz figures as drummer Philly Joe Jones, trombonist Slide Hampton, saxophonist Sonny Rollins and composer/arranger Quincy Jones. His identification as an important new arrival gained him a Down Beat Critics Poll Award when he was in his early 20s.

Hubbard was capable of quickly grasping the subtleties as well as the specific elements of a startlingly wide range of stylistic areas, from the hard bop of his work with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers to the most avant-garde music of the decade.

Seemingly the first choice for artists of every stripe, he 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," wrote Joachim Berendt in "The Jazz Book: From New Orleans to Rock and Free Jazz," "is the most brilliant trumpeter of a generation of musicians who stand with one foot in 'tonal' jazz and with the other in the atonal camp."

Although his playing, especially in the earliest years, reflected the influence of Clifford Brown, Miles Davis and others, he said saxophonists were most influential in his development, often specifically mentioning Coltrane's "sheets of sound" as an important source.

"I always practice with saxophone players," he told Julie Coryell and Laura Friedman in their book, "Jazz-Rock Fusion: The People, the Music." "I find when you get around trumpet players, you get into competitive playing -- who can play the loudest and the highest. After you develop your own style, you don't want to get into that."

Like many players in his generation, Hubbard was drawn to pop and rock interests in the '70s and '80s. In 1977 he toured with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams in the quasi-Miles Davis ensemble V.S.O.P. And he released a series of rock- and pop-oriented albums on the CTI label.

"Red Clay," "First Light" and "Straight Life" received good reviews, and "First Light" was awarded a Grammy in 1972 for best jazz performance by a group. Later CTI albums received generally negative criticism.

In the early '90s, the intensity with which Hubbard had always approached his trumpet caught up with him. After splitting his lip in 1992, he ignored the injury, continuing to play on a European tour. The lip became badly infected, and his physician insisted on a biopsy. No cancer was found, but Hubbard spent the next few years struggling to regain his early ability to articulate his instrument.

His playing over the last decade was uneven, at best. In his most recent local appearance, at Catalina Bar & Grill in April, he performed with The New Jazz Composers Octet, an ensemble organized by Weiss, who was Hubbard's arranger and producer.

Although he performed on fluegelhorn, a more forgiving instrument than the trumpet for players with lip problems, Hubbard did brief solo segments, revealing only traces of the player who Weiss said "played faster, longer, higher and with more energy than any other trumpeter of his era."

Hubbard was born Frederick DeWayne Hubbard in Indianapolis on April 7, 1938. He was the youngest of six children in a musical household and first played the tonette and then the mellophone.

"I had a sister who played classical piano and sang spirituals," he told Coryell and Friedman. "My mother played the piano by ear and I had a brother who played the bass and tenor. So the music was hot and heavy. You'd hear somebody singing, somebody playing the piano, and always a record playing."

He took up the trumpet in junior high school, and also played fluegelhorn, piano, French horn, sousaphone and tuba.

Moving to New York City in 1958, when he was 20, Hubbard quickly became known as one of the important new jazz arrivals. In the early '70s, his career well-established, he moved to Los Angeles, settling in the San Fernando Valley.

He received a Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2006.

Hubbard is survived by his wife, Briggie, and his son, Duane.

Funeral services are pending. A memorial tribute in New York will be planned in the new year.

Heckman is a freelance jazz writer.


ubu said...

A musical tribute is in the works, will be posted separately!

archer said...

excellent job, ubu