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Freddie Hubbard
Written by Dan Miller

(Born 1938) Freddie Hubbard's genius incorporates many elements: a complete mastery of his instrument, soulfulness, harmonic sophistication, unbridled intensity and unadulterated attitude. His tone is big, burnished and brassy, maintaining it's beauty no matter what the circumstance. Indianapolis proved to be an excellent place for Freddie to hone his skills. He worked in many different groups, but it was his early relationship with Wes Montgomery that provided the platform for Hub's early growth.

Freddie moved to New York City in 1958, and immediately immersed himself into the scene. Influenced heavily by Fats Navarro, Miles Davis and Clifford Brown, Hubbard's own style had already begun to take shape. By the end of 1958, Freddie had recorded with John Coltrane on the albums Stardust and The Believer for the Prestige label. In April of 1959, he began a two-month stint with Sonny Rollins. Freddie then went to work with Charli Persip and Slide Hampton, recording with both. During his time with Slide Hampton's group, Freddie shared the trumpet solos with Booker Little (Burt Collins played lead). Booker made a strong impression on Hub, and the two became fast friends. Freddie joined Cannonball Adderley, Wynton Kelly and Jimmy Cobb to record with Paul Chambers (Go). In 1960, he joined J.J. Johnson's sextet. This group included Cedar Walton and Clifford Jordan, and they produced a wonderfully swinging record for Columbia entitled J.J. Incorporated (Listen: In Walked Horace).

It was in 1960, that he began his relationship with Blue Note Records. He recorded his debut as a leader, Open Sesame (Listen: Open Sesame and All or Nothing at All) on June 19th with Tina Brooks and McCoy Tyner. Hub would also play on Brooks' Blue Note debut True Blue just one week later. J.J. Johnson disbanded shortly thereafter, and Freddie returned to Slide Hampton's group.

During the summer of 1961, Lee Morgan decided to leave Art Blakey's band. On Lee's recommendation, Freddie joined the Jazz Messengers (which would cement lifelong associations with Wayne Shorter and Curtis Fuller). The Messengers was a great outlet for Hub's improvisations and compositions, and he stayed until late 1964. Many classic albums came from this group (Blakey's first sextet), including Mosaic (Listen: Down Under and Crisis), Free For All (Listen: Hammerhead and Pensativa) and Caravan (Listen: Thermo and Caravan).

During the sixties, Hubs produced a series of excellent albums for Blue Note: Goin' Up, Here To Stay, Hub Cap, Ready for Freddie, Hub Tones, Breaking Point and Blue Spirits. Featuring Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, the music on Ready for Freddie is an incredible testament to Hubbard's brilliance as an improviser (Listen: Birdlike, Arietas, Crisis and Marie Antoinette). As a highly sought after sideman, Freddie participated in many of the landmark recordings of the era: Bill Evans (Interplay), Eric Dolphy (Out To Lunch), Dexter Gordon (Doin' Alright), Ornette Coleman (Free Jazz), John Coltrane (Ole), Hank Mobley (Roll Call), Oliver Nelson (Blues and the Abstract Truth), Herbie Hancock (Empyrean Isles, Maiden Voyage and Takin' Off), Sonny Rollins (East Broadway Rundown) and Wayne Shorter (Speak No Evil and The All Seeing Eye). During the late sixties, Freddie began recording for Atlantic (Backlash and High Pressure Blues) and working with Max Roach.

The seventies found Freddie going in a new direction and recording for CTI: Red Clay (Listen: Red Clay and The Intrepid Fox), Straight Life (Listen: Straight Life and Mr.Clean), First Light and Sky Dive. He made the move to Columbia Records where a released a series of commercial projects.

The eighties and nineties found him returning to his roots with collaborations with Herbie Hancock (V.S.O.P.), Joe Henderson (Keystone Bop), McCoy Tyner (The Great Quartet) and Woody Shaw (Double Take and The Eternal Triangle) as well as leading his own groups with young musicians like Benny Green, Javon Jackson and Kenny Garrett.

See Article: Freddie Hubbard: The Blue Note Years 1960-1965 by Dan Miller


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