Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year End Brings Another Sad Note ... Loss of Jazz Giant Freddie Hubbard

We made reference to one year-end disappointment yesterday, and, on the heels of that, this morning, a good friend alerted me to another.

Jazz Legend Freddie Hubbard passed away, at the age of 70, apparently as a result of a heart attack suffered a week ago.

I had the good fortune to see Hubbard perform scores-of-times, here on the East Coast, and also in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

He was an incredible soloist ... You could walk into a room, with music playing and immediately recognize "Oh, that's Freddie Hubbard on ..." and you would stand and listen, the music washing over you, so, so satisfying.

From Don Heckman, in the LA Times;

From the beginning, Hubbard's playing was characterized by its strength and assurance, its capacity to roam confidently across the trumpet's entire range, and his gift for spontaneous melodic invention.

He was barely out of his teens in the late 1950s and working with such established jazz figures as drummer Philly Joe Jones, trombonist Slide Hampton, saxophonist Sonny Rollins and composer/arranger Quincy Jones. His identification as an important new arrival gained him a Down Beat Critics Poll Award when he was in his early 20s.


Seemingly the first choice for artists of every stripe, he was present on many of the most significant jazz albums of the '60s, among them Ornette Coleman's "Free Jazz," John Coltrane's "Ascension," Eric Dolphy's "Out To Lunch," Oliver Nelson's "Blues and the Abstract Truth," Wayne Shorter's "Speak No Evil" and Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage."

He received a Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2006.
He was both a master musician (he played with a "Who's-Who of Jazz History), and a top-notch performer, not shy about joking or bantering with the audience from the stage.

Always a pro ... Well, just about always ...

One performance, in the mid-90's, at the Regattabar, in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, wasn't quite up-to-par.

Bringing a new girlfriend to the show, that I had built up to incredible heights, saw the rhythm section come out, play for nearly a half hour, minus Hubbard ... Hubbard then came and took the stage, played for about 20-minutes and left the stage, with the rhythm section finishing up another 20-minutes, or so.

The heated discussion we noticed Hubbard engaged in, as we entered the club, must have had to do with, perhaps, the financial arrangement and, apparently, Hubbard came out and played just enough to meet the gig requirements.

That brought to mind stories of Hubbard I heard, at a party in the late 1980's, in Los Angeles, during the Playboy Jazz Festival, where the late John Stubblefield had the room in stitches, falling on the floor with laughter, retelling tales of being on tour with Hubbard.

Freddie Hubbard on Wikipedia

Freddie Hubbard at

NYT OBITUARY - Freddie Hubbard, Jazz Trumpeter, Dies at 70

BBC: Jazz giant Freddie Hubbard dies

AP - Freddie Hubbard dies - brilliant jazz trumpeter

A related note, word came today that Nat Hentoff, prolific writer of Jazz, and other subjects, has been laid off by The Village Voice.

“Nat Hentoff wrote liner notes for every great musician that I’ve ever loved, from Billie Holiday to Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin, and that’s not even what he’s been writing about for the last 30 years,” said Tom Robbins, a Voice staff writer.

Mr. Hentoff said he learned the news in a phone call with Mr. Ortega on Tuesday morning. “I’m 83 and a half. You’d think they’d have let me go silently,” he said. “Fortunately, I’ve never been more productive.”

Mr. Hentoff plans to continue to write a weekly column for the United Media syndicate and contribute pieces to The Wall Street Journal. His book “At the Jazz Band Ball: 60 Years on the Jazz Scene,” is expected next year.

“With all due immodesty, I think it doesn’t help to lose me because people have told me they read The Voice not only for me, but certainly for me,” he said.

Some of Freddie Hubbard's Music

You can click to listen to classics Red Clay and Little Sunflower, as I post below a few personal favorites.

Freddie Hubbard "Hubbard's Cupboard"

Sky Dive - Freddie Hubbard


No doubt, Freddie will wow'em up in Bebop Heaven!

R.I.P. Freddie Hubbard ...

It was great having you here!

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