Arts Desk

Freddie Hubbard, 1938-2008

Freddie Hubbard

After a hectic drive back to town and frantic conversations with trumpeter Thad Wilson and jazz critic Howard Mandel, I'm saddened to report that the rumors discussed on this blog today are true. Legendary jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard died this morning at Sherman Oaks Hospital in Sherman Oaks, California, at 2:00 AM Los Angeles Time. He was 70.

Hubbard died of complications from the heart attack he suffered on Nov. 26.

The Indianapolis native debuted in New York in 1958, at age 20, then stormed onto the national scene as a leader and star two years later. Through the 1960s and '70s and even into the '80s the trumpeter's virtuosity, innovation, and rhythm and imagination eclipsed even Miles Davis as an influence on young trumpet players. His bright tone, boundless energy, and unabashed willingness to change an solo's direction mid-phrase were defining elements of an original style that's as exciting today as it was in 1960.

In his prime, Hubbard was on jazz's frontier, playing on the two most radical recordings of the era (Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz and John Coltrane's Ascension) and exploring new territory on his own with albums like Breaking Point and Hub Tones. He was even an early proponent of the fusion sound in the early 1970s. Though his reputation was tarnished by some slick pop-jazz work and his work greatly reduced by injuries and financial concerns, Hubbard remained tremendously respected in both mainstream and progressive circles; a recording this summer with the New Jazz Composers Octet brought whispers of a comeback for the veteran musician.

The loss of Hubbard is tremendous in the jazz world. It's dwarfed, however, by the legacy he leaves behind.

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  • Jason Cherkis

    Very sad. It's like some of the last true greats are dying. Last year or the year before it was Andrew Hill. Now Freddie Hubbard.

    I know what I'm putting on my turntable tonight.

  • Wally Crawford

    On Christmas Day, Eartha, now Freddie...Both of you, R.I.P.

  • Cisneros

    This man was at the vanguard of modern jazz.
    Ascension, Free Jazz, the Andrew Hill dates...
    It blows my mind to think of the artistic ground he covered.

    The 1971 record Sing Me A Song of Songmy featured his quintet, reciters, chorus, strings, organ and "synthesized and processed sounds". Where do you go from there??

    He did it all and continues to inspire new generations of horn players. It's cool to hear young & old refer to him by only his first name, as they would for Miles. "Have you heard this Freddie record?", "You gotta check out this Freddie solo". ...Freddie was a bad dude.

    Godspeed Mr. Hubbard.

  • sunsown Dale Bartlett

    Freddie was one of the warmest trumpeter and people, that I have ever heard or met...Reed Clay was a point of revelation for me and many others of my generation. a true inovator and a deep will be missed dearly....for the love of it, your unique song will be with me forever..

  • Bill Hasson

    I glad I was able to give Hubtones an award in the Spring at the "Break the Glass Ceiling Jazz Festival" in Chesapeake, Va, Thank you Stephanie Middleton for the honor of honoring this great giant.

  • Michelle Burke

    Bill, I have been trying to reach you. Please get in touch.

    Northampton, MA

    Thank you.

  • Michelle Burke