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Freddie Hubbard(Profile/Biography)

United States
12th November 2009

Frederick Dwayne Hubbard was born April 7th 1938, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Freddie played mellophone and then trumpet in his school band at Arsenal Technical High School. He was introduced to jazz by his older brother, Earmon Jr., a pianist who was a Bud Powell devotee. Trumpeter Lee Katzman, former sideman with Stan Kenton, recommended that he begin studying at the Arthur Jordan Conservatory of Music with Max Woodbury, the principal trumpeter of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Freddie worked at the famous “George‘s Bar” on Indiana Avenue with a band of fellow teenagers called the Jazz Contemporaries which was formed and administered by bassist Larry Ridley. The band included saxophonist/flautist James Spaulding, pianist Walt Miller (later replaced by Al Plank) and drummer Paul Parker. Parker later became the drummer along with organist Melvin Rhyne working and recording with the Wes Montgomery Trio. Freddie's first recording session, as a teenager, was the album entitled "The Montgermery Brothers and Five Others".

Moving to New York in 1958 at the age of 20, he quickly astonished fans and critics alike with the depth and maturity of his playing working with veteran jazz artists Philly Joe Jones (1958- 59, 1961), Sonny Rollins (1959), Slide Hampton (1959-60), J.J. Johnson (1960), Eric Dolphy, and Quincy Jones, with whom he toured Europe (1960-61). He was barely 22 when he recorded Open Sesame, his solo debut for Blue Note Records (on the recommendation of Miles Davis), in June 1960. That album, featuring Tina Brooks and McCoy Tyner, set the stage for one of the more meteoric careers in jazz.

Within the next 10 months, Hubbard recorded his second album, Goin‘ Up, with Hank Mobley and McCoy Tyner, and a third, Hub Cap, with Julian Priester and Jimmy Heath. Four months later, in August 1961, he made what many consider his masterpiece, Ready for Freddie, which was also his first Blue Note collaboration with Wayne Shorter. That same year, he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (replacing Lee Morgan). Freddie had quickly established himself as an important new voice in jazz. While earning a reputation as a hard-blowing young lion, he had developed his own sound, distancing himself from the early influence of Clifford Brown and Miles Davis and won Down Beat's “New Star” award on trumpet.

He remained with Blakey until 1964, leaving to form his own small group, 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. Hubbard was also a significant presence on Herbie Hancock‘s Blue Note recordings beginning with the pianist's debut as a leader, Takin' Off, and continuing on Empyrean Isles and Maiden Voyage. He was also featured on four classic, groundbreaking 1960s sessions: Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz, Oliver Nelson's Blues and the Abstract Truth, Eric Dolphy's Out to Lunch, and John Coltrane's Ascension during that time.

Freddie achieved his greatest popular success in the 1970s with a series of crossover albums on Atlantic and CTI Records. His early 70s jazz albums for CTI, Red Clay, First Light and Straight Life were particularly well received and First Light won a Grammy Award. He returned to the acoustic, hard bop arena with his 1977 tour with the V.S.O.P. quintet, which teamed him with the members of the 1960s Miles Davis Quintet; Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, and Ron Carter. In the 80s Hubbard was again leading his own jazz groups, attracting very favorable notices for his playing at concert halls and festivals in the USA, Europe, and Japan, often in the company of Joe Henderson, playing a repertory of hardbop and modal-jazz pieces. He also collaborated with fellow trumpet legend Woody Shaw for a series of albums for the Blue Note and Timeless labels.

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 hard bop trumpeters, he strives to create impassioned blues lines without losing the contemporary context within which he plays. He is perhaps one of the greatest technical trumpet players ever to play in the jazz idiom and arguably the most influential.
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