Freddie Hubbard Biography

Frederick Dewayne Hubbard, 7 April 1938, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Hubbard began playing trumpet as a child, and in his teens worked locally with Wes Montgomery and Monk Montgomery. When he was 20 he moved to New York, immediately falling in with the best of contemporary jazzmen. Amongst the musicians with whom he worked in the late 50s were Eric Dolphy (his room-mate for 18 months), Sonny Rollins, J.J. Johnson and Quincy Jones. In 1961 he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, quickly establishing himself as an important new voice in jazz. He remained with Blakey until 1966, leaving to form his own small groups, which over the next few years featured Kenny Barron and Louis Hayes. Throughout the 60s he also played in bands led by others, including Max Roach and Herbie Hancock and was featured on four classic 60s sessions: Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz, Oliver Nelson’s Blues And The Abstract Truth, Dolphy’s Out To Lunch!, and John Coltrane’s Ascension.

Although his early 70s jazz albums Red Clay, First Light and Straight Life were particularly well received, this period saw Hubbard emulating Herbie Hancock and moving into jazz fusions. However, he sounded much more at ease in the hard bop context of V.S.O.P., the band which retraced an earlier quintet led by Miles Davis and brought together ex-Davis sidemen Hancock, Hayes, Wayne Shorter and Ron Carter, with Hubbard taking the Davis role. In the 80s Hubbard was again leading his own jazz group, attracting very favourable notices for his playing at concerts and festivals in the USA and Europe. He played with Woody Shaw, recording with him in 1985, and two years later recordedStardust with Benny Golson. In 1988 he teamed up once more with Blakey at an engagement in Holland, from which cameFeel The Wind. In 1990 he appeared in Japan headlining an American-Japanese concert package which also featured Elvin Jones, Sonny Fortune, pianists George Duke and Benny Green, bass players Carter and Rufus Reid and singer Salena Jones.

An exceptionally talented virtuoso performer, Hubbard’s rich full tone is never lost, even when he plays dazzlingly fast passages. As one of the greatest of hard bop trumpeters, he contrives to create impassioned blues lines without losing the contemporary context within which he plays. Although his periodic shifts into jazz rock have widened his audience, he is at his best playing jazz. He continues to mature, gradually leaving behind the spectacular displays of his early years, replacing them with a more deeply committed jazz. His 1995 Music Masters session, MMTC, highlights this maturity with new recordings of the music of four giants: Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley. In November of 2008, Hubbard suffered a heart attack, from which he died a month later in his Sherman Oaks, California, home.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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