Freddie Hubbard

Freddie Hubbard

Biography, Selected Discography, Transcriptions

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Selected Discography/

Additional Resources


Frederick Dewayne Hubbard was born in Indiapolis, Indiana, on April 7, 1938. After spending a year playing mellophone in the John Hope Junior High School band, he switched to trumpet. While at Arsenal Tech High School, Hubbard also began playing french horn.

Though offered a scholarship by Indiana Central College for his french horn playing, Hubbard elected to study trumpet for the next year at the Jordan Conservatory of Music, and took lessons with Max Woodbury of the Indianapolis Symphony. During this period he worked in the Indianapolis area with a band called The Contemporaries and with the Montgomery Brothers (Wes, Buddy, and Monk).

In 1958, Hubbard travelled to New York City, first playing with baritone saxophonist Jay Cameron and later with his own group, and was shortly after hired on by Philly Joe Jones. His early playing style clearly owed elements to Miles Davis (his first influence), Clifford Brown, and Kenny Dorham.

By 1960, Hubbard had recorded his first album as a leader for Blue Note, Open Sesame, recorded with Eric Dolphy, and worked in the groups of Philly Joe Jones, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Persip, Slide Hampton, and J.J. Johnson before touring Europe with Quincy Jones' orchestra. He appeared as a sideman on several important jazz recordings from this period, including Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz and Oliver Nelson's Blues and the Abstract Truth.

In 1961, Hubbard joined the front line of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers group (along with Wayne Shorter and Curtis Fuller), producing some of the groups most significant albums. Hubbard remained in the group until 1964. He appeared on Eric Dolphy's seminal recording Out to Lunch in that year.

He recorded Ascension with John Coltrane (1965), and Maiden Voyage with Herbie Hancock and, after a period with Max Roach (1965-66), he led his own quintet which at the time usually featured altoist James Spaulding.

The 1970s mark some highs and lows for Hubbard. A fruitful association with producer Creed Taylor for CTI yielded some excellent albums (Red Clay and Straight Life in 1970, and First Light in 1971), but shortly after, Hubbard signed with Columbia and recorded several albums clearly geared toward more commercial consumption (simultaneously alienating those in the jazz mainstream).

It was not until 1977 that he returned his attention to the type of playing that had been so successful during his CTI period, touring with Herbie Hancock's V.S.O.P. group and producing recordings with such labels as Pablo, Blue Note, and Atlantic. Unfortunately, many in the jazz public had written him off by this point, even though he clearly retained the brilliance that made him such a force earlier in his career. High points of this period include recordings one with Oscar Peterson and a pair with Woody Shaw.

By the late 1980s, Hubbard's lack of reliability in making scheduled appearances (as well as other undocumented personal problems) began to hurt his professional stature, and his technique began to show some cracks.

In late 1992, Hubbard's chops broke down completely after he damaged his upper lip. After two years of rebuilding and relearning how to play with this damage, he began recording again for the Music Masters label with mixed success. Still on the comeback trail to this day, it remains to be seen whether Hubbard can regain the glory that made him such a success in the 60s.

Selected Discography/Transcriptions

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Dexter Gordon: Doin' Alright
(Blue Note, 1961)
An early outing for Hubbard as a sideman, with Dexter Gordon on tenor saxophone, Horace Parlan on piano, Al Harewood on drums, and George Tucker on bass. A mix of Gordon's straight-ahead originals and some classic standards, Hubbard shines without taking the spotlight away from the leader. An excellent introduction to Hubbard's early playing. (Note: Gordon and Hubbard reprised their performance of "Society Red" in the movie "'Round Midnight".)

I Was Doin' Alright (Gershwin/Gershwin) / You've Changed (Carey/Fischer) / For Regulars Only (Gordon) / For Regulars Only [alt. take] (Gordon) / Society Red (Gordon) / It's You Or No One (Cahn/Styne) / I Want More (Gordon)

Freddie Hubbard's solo on "For Regulars Only" (PDF/71Kb) Click here to purchase this album from

Freddie Hubbard: Ready for Freddie
(Blue Note, 1961)
An all-star session featuring Freddie with Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), McCoy Tyner (piano), Art Davis (bass), Elvin Jones (drums), and Bernard McKinney (euphonium), this recording introduced two of Freddie's best-known compositions, "Birdlike" and "Crisis".

Arietis (Hubbard) / A Weaver of Dreams (Elliott/Young) / Marie Antoinette (Shorter) / Birdlike (Hubbard) / Crisis (Hubbard) / Arietis [alternate take] (Hubbard) / Marie Antoinette [alternate take] (Shorter)

Freddie Hubbard's solo on "Birdlike" (PDF: 161KB)

Freddie Hubbard: Hub-Tones
(Blue Note, 1962)
Hubbard teams up with James Spaulding (as/fl), Herbie Hancock (p), Reggie Workman (b) and Clifford Jarvis (dr) in a recording which sees Hubbard in fine form on four of his own originals plus the standard "You're My Everything".

You're My Everything / Prophet Jennings / Hub-Tones / Lament For Booker / For Spee's Sake / You're My Everything / (alt.) Hub-Tones / (alt.) For Spee's Sake (alt.)

Freddie Hubbard's solo on "You're My Everything" (PDF/98KB) Click here to purchase this album from

Herbie Hancock: Takin' Off
(Blue Note, 1962)
Herbie Hancock's first album as a leader, this all-star session features Freddie on trumpet with Hancock (piano), Dexter Gordon (tenor sax), Butch Warren (bass), and Billy Higgins (drums). Probably best known as the session that produced the popular jazz standard "Watermelon Man", this recording also features Hancock's loping composition "Driftin'" and the John Scott composition "The Maze".

Watermelon Man (Hancock) / Three Bags Full (Hancock) / Empty Pockets (Hancock) / The Maze (Scott) / Driftin' (Hancock) / Alone Am I (Hancock) / Watermelon Man [alternate take] (Hancock) / Three Bags Full [alternate take] (Hancock) / Empty Pockets [alternate take] (Hancock)

Freddie Hubbard's solo on "Driftin'" (PDF/41Kb) Click here to purchase this album from

Art Blakey: Free for All
(Blue Note, 1964)
Hubbards's last session as a member of the Messengers, this recording represents an apex of sorts in the band's massive discography. Freddie's trumpet playing is phenomenal on each tune, and Blakey's drumming at some points (especially in the title track) is so frenetic it almost crosses into free bop. Freddie appears with Blakey (drums), Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Cedar Walton (piano), and Reggie Workman (bass). Freddie's arrangement of "Pensativa" is itself worth the price of admission.

Free for All (Shorter) / Hammer Head (Shorter) / The Core (Hubbard) / Pensativa (Fischer)

Freddie Hubbard's solo on "Hammerhead" (PDF/61Kb) Click here to purchase this album from

Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage
(Blue Note, 1965)
Considered by some to be Herbie Hancock's finest recording of the 1960s, this session yielded two of Hancock's most popular jazz standards, "Maiden Voyage" and "Dolphin Dance". The band includes Freddie on trumpet with Hancock (piano), George Coleman (tenor sax), Ron Carter (bass), and Tony Williams (drums). Highly recommended.

Maiden Voyage (Hancock) / The Eye of the Hurricane (Hancock) / Little One (Hancock) / Survival of the Fittest (Hancock) / Dolphin Dance (Hancock)

Freddie Hubbard's solo on "Survival of the Fittest" (PDF/56Kb) Click here to purchase this album from

Wayne Shorter: Speak No Evil
(Blue Note, 1964)
Freddie fills out the horn section with Shorter (tenor sax) fronting a rhythm section featuring two of his bandmates from the Miles Davis quintet, Herbie Hancock (piano) and Ron Carter (bass), along with Elvin Jones (drums). Shorter's third album as a leader for Blue Note includes several original recordings of jazz staples, including "Witch Hunt", "Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum", and "Speak No Evil". This session should be in everyone's collection, as it's one of Shorter's best and an integral part of the Blue Note legacy.

Witch Hunt (Shorter) / Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum (Shorter) / Dance Cadaverous (Shorter) / Speak No Evil (Shorter) / Infant Eyes (Shorter) / Wild Flower / Dance Cadaverous [alternate take] (Shorter)

Freddie Hubbard's solo on "Witch Hunt" (PDF/56Kb) Click here to purchase this album from

Freddie Hubbard: Outpost
(Enja, 1981)
Hubbard is in prime form in this hard-to-find recording, which features Kenny Barron (piano), Buster Williams (bass) and Al Foster (drums). Highlights include the standard "You Don't Know What Love Is," Williams's "Dual Force" and Eric Dolphy's "Loss."

Santa Ana Winds (Hubbard) / You Don't Know What Love Is (DePaul/Raye) / The Outpost Blues (Hubbard) / Dual Force (Williams) / Loss (Dolphy)

The following solo was transcribed by Giz Bowe, a freelance trumpet player in Richmond, Virginia.

Freddie Hubbard's solo on "Dual Force" (PDF/90KB) Click here to purchase this album from

Ray Charles: The Spirit of Christmas
(Rhino #72842, 1985)
Ray Charles' contribution to the pantheon of holiday music. Featured soloists include Hubbard (trumpt), Rudy Johnson (tenor), and Jeff Pivar (guitar).

What Child Is This / The Little Drummer Boy / Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town / This Time Of The Year / Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer / That Spirit Of Christmas / All I Want For Christmas / Christmas In My Heart / Winter Wonderland / Christmas Time / Baby It's Cold Outside

Freddie Hubbard's solo on "What Child Is This" (PDF/48Kb) Click here to purchase this album from

Freddie Hubbard: Bolivia
(Music Masters, 1991)
One of Freddie's last studio albums before his chop meltdown. Mostly flugelhorn work. "Bolivia" and "Dear John" are highlights.

Homegrown (Hubbard)/ Bolivia (Walton) / God Bless The Child (Herzog/Holiday) / Dear John (Hubbard) / Managua (Hubbard) / Third World (Hubbard)

Freddie Hubbard's solo on "Dear John" (PDF/76Kb) Click here to purchase this album from

Additional Resources

Freddie Hubbard - Biography, Selected Discography, Transcriptions
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