jazz news, obituaries
Virtuoso trumpeter considered one of the greats in jazz
Freddie Hubbard, regarded as one of jazz music’s most gifted trumpeters of the post-bebop ’60s and ’70s, died Monday at Sherman Oaks Hospital in Los Angeles. He died at age 70 of complications from a heart attack he suffered Nov. 26, according to his manager, Dave Weiss.
Hubbard gained critical acclaim and commercial success for his intense style, technical prowess and melodic inventiveness. He performed in a wide range of styles, from hard-bop with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messangers to the avant-garde work of Ornette Coleman, and jazz-fusion with V.S.O.P. Leonard Feather called him “one of the most skilled, original and forceful trumpeters of the ’60s.”
Hubbard began working with drummer Philly Joe Jones, trombonist Slide Hampton, saxophonist Sonny Rollins and composer/arranger Quincy Jones in his early 20’s. Hailed as an important new arrival on the jazz scene, he was given the Down Beat Critics Poll Award.
Hubbard contributed to 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, Wayne Shorter’s Speak No Evil and Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage.
During the ’70s & ’80s his work moved more into the pop/rock arena, touring in the ’70s with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams in the quasi-Miles Davis group V.S.O.P. The ensemble released a series of albums on the CTI label, Red Clay, Straight Life and First Light, the album winning a Grammy in 1972 for best jazz performance by a group.
In 1992, Hubbard’s intensity as a player caused him to split his lip. He ignored the injury but the lip became badly infected and he spent the next few years struggling to regain his ability to articulate his instrument. He began performing on flugelhorn, a more forgiving instrument than the trumpet.
Born in Indianapolis on April 7, 1938 as Frederick DeWayne Hubbard, he was the youngest of six children in a musical household. He first played the tonette and then the mellophone before taking up the trumpet in junior high school, and also played flugelhorn, piano, French horn, sousaphone and tuba.
He moved to New York City in 1958, where he quickly became an important member on the jazz scene at just 20 years old, and was signed to the Blue Note label. In the early ’70s, his career well-established, he moved to Los Angeles.
Hubbard received a Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2006.
Freddie Hubbard is survived by his wife of 35 years, Briggie, and his son, Duane.
Funeral services are pending, with a memorial tribute planned to take place in New York in the new year.