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R.I.P.: Freddie Hubbard, 70


Freddie Hubbard died today at Sherman Oaks Hospital as a result of a heart attack suffered in late November. His name might not blow up the same marquee lights as that of the late Eartha Kitt, whom we lost on Christmas Day, but anyone who cultivates even a passing interest in jazz certainly knows Hubbard's swift, mercury-smooth trumpet sound, whether they realize it or not.

A sideman for Sonny Rollins and Art Blakey, Hubbard did some of his most masterful work with the '60s avant-garde crowd, including Eric Dolphy's "Out to Lunch," John Coltrane's "Ascension" and Ornette Coleman's masterful group improvisation "Free Jazz." Perhaps as a result of such a track record, Hubbard's recordings as a band leader may have been a bit overshadowed, but his soul-jazz leaning '70s work on "Red Clay" and "Straight Life" are well worth investigating. In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this year, Wynton Marsalis described Hubbard's bright tone on trumpet and flugelhorn as "exuberant," and the track "Mr. Clean" from "Straight Life" is a captivating example.

Straight Life

Note: By popular demand, here's another excellent example of Hubbard's work, a fairly bonkers, 18-minute live version of "Red Clay," a bonus track from the 1970 album of the same name. At about the 13 minute mark you get a good idea of what we're missing having lost Freddie Hubbard. >> Listen here

-- Chris Barton

Photo of Freddie Hubbard in 1995 by Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (9)

Freddie was the first jazz performer that sit to listen thir music!!! God take him!!

Frederick D. Hubbard

In music's deep mine he dug, this artist,
and skipped about on clouds' thin carpet.
His monumental collaborations
and blown lip vacations
reap what outlasts diamonds, gold
and rack for positioning recognition that holds
aloft crucial effort.
What kept interminable strain upon,
that day'd its nights and passed on sun
for hope of rote's wise route, whose interminable strain
stayed the great world for but a while,
is leveling praise about this bronze head;
who all soul, spirit and endeavour is saved for better creds,
than strength and mere accident's boons
in memory's usually paper-mache rooms;
for example that must, the mealy halls of America.

Freddie was a trumpeter... the cut above is a sax solo.
Plug in Herbie's Cantaloupe Island instead.

Man, I knew he had some chops, but he totally cuts Joe Hen on that clip by _sounding exactly like him_. Creepy. Hub was a freak.

Met Freddie, I believe Sunday, 9 Mar 2008, performing at BYU (really?), in Provo, Utah. The DeJong auditorium in the Harris Center, 2000 seats. 86 people went to see him. Didn't matter. Hubbard gave them the same level of performance as the week before, in Dehli (India, duh...). Standing room only. Set up another concert impromptu, for the next evening. Again, stainding room only. This incredible, lightning-fast, trumpeter, here in Provo, for 86? Gee... Bigotry still exists in Utah.

In the green room, door closed, folks from the Salt Lake (City) PBS radio station, fans, me... Freddie asks, "Is it all right if I have some ORANGE juice? Crowd: "Yeah!". Freddie pulls out a drink size container of Smirnoff he got off the plane, and pours it into a Dr. Poole's orange juice carton. Man, great performance. The Man deserves a drink. He slants his brow, and pull out -- the CONTRACT!

A contract to perform at Brigham Young University... The stipulations: no alcohol, caffeine drinks, coffee, tea, etc., shall be brought onto the premises of the Campus. Geez...Give us a break!

We get out of the DeJong, people goin' to dinner, Hubbard asks if I'd like to join. They were going to the Brick Oven, directly adjacent to the southwest corner of the BYU campus. We all meet there.

Freddie puts his trumpet (in its case) on an alcove where he can keep an eye on it. Staff asks us if we are reserved, how large our party is, Freddie guesses 20. They set up tables in the middle of the room. We seat. People moving, pushing, shoving. Somehow, I end up sitting directly across from him.

Food Ordered, NO alcohol, NO choice.

Try to remember the group there. Freddie-Trumpet, Eddie Gomez-Bass, Tony Williams? - Drums, was there a fourth?

Freddie asks me, who do I like. I answer--Manhattan Transfer. He responds that he likes them as well. Freddie says, " They have a lot of soul for white people." Eddie retorts back, "Oh, Freddie, they're so "hokey."

Freddie responds, "Think of this. They sing songs about Eddie Jefferson, Coleman Hawkins, Basie, Bird, so many that we've all performed with. People go out and look for and buy their albums. They see us listed as players with them. People look for our albums and buy them. Manhattan Transfer, as "hokey" as you may think they are, educate people about them, and about us." Gomez admitted he'd never thought of that.

Our group was not the large table the staff was waiting for. A group assembled at the west end of the room. About 15 - 20, or so. Freddie and I continued small jazz chit chat. He says that he and Paul Shaefer with the Letterman show are roommates in NYC, though they don't see each other often, with their busy schedules. I'm about to say something, and Freddie puts a calm hand stop sign in front of me as he cocks his head around to listen to the table on the west end, his back to the group. He has a slow, wry smile growing on his face, listening carefully.

Hmm, I had seen downward hand motions from some in the group, waving, as if telling the pale guy at the left end to squelch himself. I wouldn't have known what about, though, as they spoke a language I did not understand. (Return Mormon (LDS) missionaries, now in college, often congregate, to keep their foreign language skills fresh.)

Freddie slowly turns in his chair, looks straight at the young man at the left head of the table, and getting the tables' attention, very smoothly and eloquently, says something the him in the same smooth, fluid language that I did not understand. All around the table get extremely quiet, the young man get even more pale than he already was, and Freddie turns back to face me, a satisfied look in his countenance. The whole table beyond us is flustered, the young man, looking white as a sheet.

I ask him what was up, he responds and tells me, "Apparently, the whole table speaks Portuguese, and the guy I spoke to, was telling them 'Can you believe they let a black man in here?'. I told him, 'If you have a problem with a black man here in this restaurant, why don't you speak as loudly in English, so all of us can hear?'.

We all finished dinner, exchanged pleasantries and goodwill to each other. As we stepped out of the restaurant, it began to snow. Bidding farewell to Freddie as he got into his cab, he told me to look for his next recording, coming out that next week, "Double Take", with fellow trumpeter, and friend, Woody Shaw. Incidentally, it was Woody's last recording.

A couple of weeks later, I'm walking south, a block off University in Provo, when I see the guy at the restaurant walking ahead of me. I pick up my pace, then slow down, and approach him, introducing myself as a disk jockey from a station in Spanish Fork, and that I'd like to ask him a Man-On-The-Street question. He agrees. I ask, "Are you familiar with Billy Joel?". "Yes.", he says. I ask, "Do you like the 52nd Street album?" Before I can go further, he says, "Yes, I especially like the way he plays the trumpet on 'Zanzibar'."

I'm floored.

"Anyway, weren't you and a group of friends at Brick Oven a couple of Sundays ago in the evening?", I ask. "Uh... Yes."

I responded back, "Interesting that you liked Billy's playing on 'Zanzibar'. Actually, if you look at the liner notes, you'll find that Billy doesn't actually play the trumpet on 'Zanzibar'. In fact, the black fellow who spoke to you in Portuguese at the Brick Oven is the guy who plays the trumpet solo on 'Zanzibar'. I just thought you'd like to know." I told him to have a nice day, and I continued on my way. A couple blocks later, I looked back. He was still there, wringing hands, clapping his head,...


You were great!

Hope to add more to this.

? We appreciate the thought, but the "Mr. Clean" audio sample you put up is not of Freddie. That is a saxophone playing, not a trumpet, kids!

Freddie: the culmination of jazz trumpet. RIP Mr. Hubbard.

why on the track mr clean is joe henderson's solo heard?

There will NEVER be another like Freddie. The greatest jazz trumpeter of them all!!


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