Hub Tunes: The Freddie Hubbard Discography
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is an icon in Jazz history and I'd like to go on record with
that observation!" CEDAR A. WALTON, Jr.
Freddie Hubbard first played and recorded
in Indianapolis with the Montgomery brothers. After moving
in 1958 to New York he began a series of brief associations
with established jazz musicians, including Philly Joe Jones
(1958-59, 1961), Sonny Rollins (1959), Slide Hampton
(1959-60), J.J. Johnson (1960), and Quincy Jones, with whom
he toured Europe (1960-61). In 1961 he joined Art Blakey's
Jazz Messengers, but left in 1964 to lead his own group. He
also played as a sideman with Max Roach (1965-66).
From 1966 Hubbard worked principally with his own quintets and quartets, though he made a tour of the USA with Herbie Hancock's group V.S.O.P. in 1977. His most constant sideman was Kenny Barron, who played in his groups of the late 1960s (with Louis Hayes), early 1970s (with Hayes and Junior Cook), and early 1980s (with Buster Williams and Al Foster). In the mid-1980s Hubbard made a number of international tours and recorded with all-star groups, often in the company of Joe Henderson, playing a repertory of hard-bop and modal-jazz pieces. He continues to perform and record as a leader, and in 1985 made an album with Woody Shaw.
Hubbard has recorded scores of bop, modal-jazz and jazz-rock albums, both as a sideman and as a leader. In the early 1960s he also participated in such radically experimental sessionsas those for Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz and John Coltrane's Ascension albums, but was subsequently criticized for his overly conventional playing. His recordings of the mid-1960s with Hancock placed him among the foremost hard-bop trumpeters, his improvisations combining imaginative melody with a glossy tone, rapid and clean technique, a brilliant high register, a subtle vibrato, and bluesy, squeezed half-valve notes.
In the early 1970s he issued several commercially successful albums with musicians who had formerly played with Miles Davis (Straight Life won a Grammy Award), but for the remainder of the decade he unsuccessfully sought widespread recognition and financial security. He tried funk, all-electronic rock, disco, and overarranged pop music, and concentrated on ostentatious virtuoso displays; his trademark, a climactic trill between nonadjacent pitches (a shake), became a cliche.
During the 1980s, however, he reverted to his former style, improvising on lyrical ballads and complex bop tunes; unfortunately the histrionic elements did not entirely disappear from his playing.
--BARRY KERNFELD, The New Grove Dictionary Of Jazz
Dizzy used to tell me that I
am playing too hard. He used to say to not give everything.
Miles used to tell me that too.
Eric was different. He would get up and practice with the birds in the morning on his flute. I thought that was different because it would be early in the morning and most of the cats were getting home from any jobs that they had at three or four in the morning. Eric was up bright and early.
I advise all the young kids to not overwork. You can't be out there blowing hard. You have to pace yourself.
I am in discussions with a label. We are talking about doing something.
I got a scholarship on French horn and I went to a conservatory for about a year. I left there and went to New York.
I had been playing with this band at Birdland on Monday nights and Miles was on the side of the stage. He looked up and I was playing his licks. I played this solo and I opened my eyes and saw him looking up at me, so all of the sudden, I had to come up with some of my own ideas.
I had heard Ornette a couple of times, but I didn't really know where he was coming from until we started the record and it was beautiful, Fred. It opened up my mind.
I met up with Art Blakey in 1963, I think. It was right after Lee Morgan left and I played with him for about two and a half years.
I quite drinking, so I can think clear. When you have chop trouble, drinking doesn't help the healing process.
I was living with Slide Hampton. Slide Hampton took us in and we were living over his house for about a year and a half.
I'm going to Yoshi's. I'm taking a few gigs. I'm playing. I'm not going to play all the time. I'm going to take it easy and take it slow and warm up so I can come back.
Man, they gave me a key to the city. Can you imagine going back to Indiana and getting the key to the city? So that made me feel pretty good.
Now, Ascension was different, with all those free form playing guys, Archie Shepp, John Tchicai, these are brothers I never even thought about playing with.
That was the biggest thrill, going over to these guy's houses and having them want me to practice with them and they would show me a lot of stuff, which was really advanced stuff to me at my age.
They always want to sell me as a hard bopper.
We all kind of grew up together with Art Blakey because we all were young and he gave us a chance to write. We had to write something that was good and to sit up with a great guy like Art Blakey and watch him.
Well, my sister played trumpet. Can you imagine having a sister blowing the trumpet around the house, Fred? And my brother, he played piano. Everybody was playing some kind of music, so it was natural for me to get into it.
When I got started in New York, it wasn't like it is now. If you were different from Miles and Dizzy, it was very difficult to make gigs and make money with your own style.
When you are trying to do something when you are getting started and you are trying to make records for the first time, you want it to be the best.
Yes, I can play. I can play. I can't play as long as I did and as hard, but I don't think I have to.