Celebrating Freddie Hubbard, the intrepid fox

Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard died last night around 2 a.m. in Sherman Oaks Hospital (Los Angeles) of complications following a heart attack he had suffered on the night before Thanksgiving (November 26), not November 30 as previously reported. He was 70 years old.

Gifted with powerful technique, abundant melodic imagination, rhythmic drive and a deep bluesy feeling, Hubbard emerged in the 1960s as one of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and recorded timeless music throughout that decade with John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Andrew Hill and many others — as well as leading his own crackling sessions for Blue Note and Atlantic Records. He was not ideologically an avant-gardist; his compositions such as “Up Jumped Spring” had a lyrical playfulness. But he also excelled at expressing urgency with tunes such as “Crisis” and “Breaking Point.” 

In that era, Hubbard was generally acknowledged as the trumpet soloist second in influence only to Miles Davis — whose success always overshadowed Hubbard’s own, even when he appeared with Davis’ former sidemen in the ’70s combo V.S.O.P. Earlier in 1970s, though, Hubbard had pioneered a very popular electric jazz style, cutting albums such as Red Clay and Straight Life on the CTI label. 
By the late ’70s he suffered damaging criticism for being overly commercial, a complaint that followed him for the rest of his life. However, Hubbard continued to create serious, progressive and appealing jazz on albums such as Super Blue, three projects on which he collaborated with fellow trumpeter Woody Shaw, and in a comeback starting in the 1990s with the New Jazz Composers’ Octet, led by trumpeter David Weiss. 
Freddie Hubbard last recording with the NJCO was On The Real Side, issued in late spring 2008. Blue Note Records has reportedly prepared a live quartet date of Freddie’s from 1969 for release in April 2009.

This previous JBJ post includes my recent Downbeat profile of Freddie Hubbard and his most recent work.

He made his mark, and will be missed but also remembered.

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  1. DJ Khaliq says

    A unique talent – that will be sorely missed.
    Saw him in concert and on club dates on both coasts.
    That whole criticism about him being commercial is straight BS. Fools did not know what they were talking about.
    If Freddie was commercial, then so was Miles.
    Now we need a tribute band and a tribute album for Freddie.
    Never be another like him. May he RIP.

  2. says

    Though there was damaging criticism over his life for being overly commercial. What I know is that his talents, melodic soul and technique could not be purchased. Respect is due to his contribution and prestation in the musical world.