Hubbard started playing the mellophone and trumpet in his school band, studying at the Jordan Conservatory with the principal trumpeter of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. In his teens Hubbard worked locally with brothers Wes and Monk Montgomery and worked with bassist Larry Ridley and saxophonist James Spaulding. In 1958, at the age of 20, he moved to New York Philly Joe Jones, Sonny Rollins, Slide Hampton, Eric Dolphy , J. J. Johnson, and Quincy Jones. In June 1960 Hubbard made his first record as a leader, Open Sesame, with saxophonist Tina Brooks, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Clifford Jarvis. Hubbard recorded his second album, Goin’ Up, with saxophonist Hank Mobley and a rhythm section consisting of Tyner, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones. His third album, Hub Cap, featured trombonist Julian Priester and saxophonist Jimmy Heath. Four months later, in August 1961, he made one of his most famous records, Ready For Freddie, which was also his first collaboration with Wayne Shorter. Hubbard would join Shorter later in 1961 when he replaced Lee Morgan in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Hubbard remained with Blakey until 1966, leaving to form the first of several small groups of his own, which featured, among others, pianist Kenny Barron and drummer Louis Hayes.It was during this time that he began to develop his own sound, distancing himself from the early influences of Clifford Brown and Morgan, and won the Downbeat jazz magazine “New Star” award on trumpet.
Throughout the 1960s Hubbard played as a sideman on some of the most important albums from that era, including, Oliver Nelson<‘s The Blues and the Abstract Truth, Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage, and Wayne Shorter’s Speak No Evil. He recorded extensively for Blue Note Records in the late 1950s and 1960s: eight albums as a bandleader, and twenty-eight as a sideman. Though Hubbard never fully embraced the free jazz of the ’60s, he appeared on several landmark albums in the genre: Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz, Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch, and John Coltrane’s Ascension.
Hubbard achieved his greatest popular success in the 1970s with a series of albums for Creed Taylor and his record label CTI Records. Although his early 1970s jazz albums Red Clay, First Light, Straight Life, and Sky Divewere particularly well received and considered among his best work, the albums he recorded later in the decade were bashed by critics for their commercialism. First Lightwon a 1972 Grammy Award and included pianists Herbie Hancock and Richard Wyands, guitarists Eric Gale and George Benson, bassist Ron Carter, drummer Jack DeJohnette, and percussionist Airto Moreira. In 1994, Freddie, collaborating with Chicago jazz vocalist/co-writer Catherine Whitney, had lyrics set to the music of First Light.
During 1970-1974 Hubbard was the biggest star of the CTI label, overshadowing Stanley Turrentine, Hubert Laws, and George Benson. Columbia’s VSOP: The Quintet, album was recorded from two live performances, one at the Hearst Greek Theatre, University of California, Berkeley, on July 16, 1977, the other at the San Diego Civic Theatre, July 18, 1977. Musicians joining the trumpeter for this landmark performance were the all the members of the mid-sixties version of the Miles Davis Quintet (except the leader): Herbie Hancock on keyboards, Tony Williams on drums, on bass, and Wayne Shorter on tenor and soprano saxophones.
In the 1980s Hubbard was again leading his own jazz group, attracting very favorable notices for his playing at concerts and festivals in the USA and Europe, often in the company of Joe Henderson, playing a repertory of hard-bop and modal-jazz pieces. Hubbard played at the legendary Monterey Jazz Festival in 1980 and in 1989 (with Bobby Hutcherson). He played with Woody Shaw, recording with him in , and two years later recorded Stardust with Benny Golson. In 1988 he teamed up once more with Blakey at an engagement in Holland, from which came Feel The Wind. In 1990 he appeared in Japan headlining an American-Japanese concert package which also featured Elvin Jones, Sonny Fortune, pianists George Duke and Benny Green, bass players Ron Carter, and Rufus Reid, with jazz and popular music singer Salena Jones. He also performed at the Warsaw Jazz Festival in which an album was recorded Live At The Warsaw Jazz Festival (Jazzmen 1992).
Following a long setback of health problems and a serious lip injury in 1992 where he ruptured his upper lip and subsequently developed an infection, Hubbard is again playing and recording occasionally, even if not at the high level that he set for himself during his earlier career. His best records rank with the finest in his field.
Freddie Hubbard Discography
|1992||Live at Fat Tuesday||Jazz||Music Masters|
|1989||Times Are Changin’||Jazz||Blue Note|
|1982||Ride Like the Wind||Jazz||Elektra/Asylum Records|
|1981||Outpost||Kenny Barron, Al Foster,Buster Williams||Enja Records|
|1979||The Love Connection||Jazz||Columbia|
|1977||Bundle of Joy||Jazz||Columbia|
|1974||Keep Your Soul Together||Jazz||Columbia|
|1970||Straight Life||Hard bop, Fusion||CTI|
|1970||Red Clay||Hard bop, Fusion||CTI|
|1969||The Hub of Hubbard||Jazz||MPS/BASF|
|1966||Backlash||Hard bop, Avant-garde|