Freddie Hubbard and the enchanting sound of the trumpet

Freddie Hubbard and the enchanting sound of the trumpet

I am very partial to the trumpet in jazz music. To my ears, Louis Armstrong was and is the master of the instrument.  However, within the Be Bop, Hard Bop, Modal and Post-bop/Modern styles that form the bulk of my listening, I have players that sit atop a very long list of extraordinary musicians on that instrument. Among them, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Kenny Dorham, Blue Mitchell, Donald Byrd, Miles Davis, Thad Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Smith, Wynton Marsalis, Dizzy Reece, and Woody Shaw.  Their records from the 1950s and 1960s dominate my turntable. 


Then there is Freddie Hubbard (1938-2008) who, along with Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan, is part of the trio of jazz music trumpeters whose work I listen to more than any other. The Indianapolis-born musician left us a rich treasure of recorded music.  My taste limits me to his recordings as a leader and a sideman on Blue Note Records.  These are:

  1. Open Sesame (1960)
  2. Goin’ Up (1960)
  3. Hub Cap (1961)
  4. Ready for Freddie (1961)
  5. Hub-tones (1962)
  6. Here to Stay (1962)

I have also listened to him as a sideman (all on Blue Note) with:

Art Blakey – Mosaic

                      Buhaina’s Delight

                      Free for All 

Tina Brooks – True Blue

Eric Dolphy – Out to Lunch

Kenny Drew – Undercurrent

Dexter Gordon – Doin’ Alright


Herbie Hancock – Takin’ Off

                               Empyrean Isles

                               Maiden Voyage

Hank Mobley – Roll Call

Sam Rivers – Contours

Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil

                             The Soothsayer

                             The All Seeing Eye


He also plays with John Coltrane on Ascension (Impulse!) and with Oliver Nelson on The Blues and the Abstract Truth (impulse!).

Freddie Hubbard acquits himself very well on all these records. My passion for Clifford Brown, the great trumpeter who died very young, is satisfied whenever I hear Brownian influence in a hard bop trumpeter. Hubbard was a very fine and worthy successor. 


To my ears, Hubbard, who is said to have played on more than 300 records, was at his best during his Blue Note years.  How did he get to record music for Blue Note, arguably the most famous jazz music label?  He told National Public Radio (NPR) in 2001 that one night, when he was playing with John Coltrane at Birdland (New York City), Miles Davis came by and took a seat in front of the stage. Hubbard, who had been copying Miles’ solo off one of the latter’s records became unrattled. He quickly improvised a substitute solo. 


When Hubbard got off the stage, Miles said to him: “Come here, man. I want to talk to you.” After their conversation, Miles introduced Hubbard to Alfred Lion, the founder, owner, and producer of Blue Note Records. Miles told Alfred Lion: “Sign him up!”  The rest is joyful history. 


Any one of his Blue Note Records listed above will please most lovers of jazz. Here are a couple examples:

For Spee’s Sake on Hub-tones

Nostrand and Fulton – on Here to Stay

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