THE DOZENS: RANDY BRECKER SELECTS 12 ESSENTIAL FREDDIE HUBBARD TRACKS by Ted Panken (editor)

Note: During the course of a career that spanned more than a half century, Freddie Hubbard made his mark as one of the most formidable soloists in jazz, a fiery player who could stand out in any setting. And over these years, these settings encompassed many of the leading jazz ensembles of the era, from the Jazz Messengers to V.S.O.P. and beyond. In celebration of Hubbard’s lasting artistry, jazz.com is reprinting Randy Brecker’s survey of the highlights of the trumpeter’s career, in a Guest Artist Dozens edited by Ted Panken.



For the first installment of a new jazz.com feature premised on the notion that no better guide exists to the essential vocabulary that bedrocks the jazz canon than the musicians who are its heirs, trumpeter Randy Brecker selects a dozen essential tracks by Freddie Hubbard.



  Freddie Hubbard, by Jos L. Knaepen

During Brecker’s formative years, Hubbard was hungry and ubiquitous—he played on classics such as John Coltrane’s Olé, Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz, Sonny Rollins’ East Broadway Rundown, and on multiple sessions with Blue Note label-mates Art Blakey, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter, to name only a few.

Because Hubbard blew out his upper lip in 1992, and has never regained his form, recordings such as these are our only window into the three prior decades when he embodied excellence in trumpet playing. He had a big sound, dark and warm, almost operatic, with breathtaking facility that allowed him to play long, melodic lines of saxophonistic complexity. In every situation, Hubbard projected the persona of trumpeter-as-gladiator, an image of strength, force and self-assurance that told several generations of aspirants, “I’m Freddie Hubbard and you’re not.” Ted Panken







by Randy Brecker



      Randy Brecker
    By Jos L. Knaepen

As a fellow trumpet player, let me state that Freddie Hubbard is one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. I never take Freddie for granted, but in re-delving into his work, I was again reminded that it’s almost an impossible task to select only 12 ‘essential’ cuts. One would lead me to another two, and then those to 12 others, plus there is an unbelievable amount of amazing live Freddie on You-Tube and similar sites, and some of the best Freddie in my collection are from live performances that were traded around from musician to musician. That said, here are 12 album moments that came immediately to mind—kind of “first come first serve”…




Oliver Nelson: Stolen Moments

Track

Stolen Moments

Artist

Oliver Nelson (tenor sax)

CD

The Blues and the Abstract Truth (Impulse IMPD-154)

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Musicians:

Oliver Nelson (tenor sax), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Eric Dolphy (alto sax, flute), George Barrow (baritone sax), Bill Evans (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Roy Haynes (drums).

Composed by Oliver Nelson

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Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, February 23, 1961

Albumcoverolivernelson

Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

This was my introduction to Freddie Hubbard as a young teenager. I was listening to WHAT-FM the jazz station in Philly, and I was in my father’s room—I remember that exact point in time in my life clearly because of his performance. From the very first declarative phrase of this classic solo he had a style all his own, not only an instantly recognizable sound and vibrato, but also the angularity of his solo, the way he used dynamics in it and laid back in the time caught my ear immediately. I could tell he listened to saxophonists, and when he ran up and down that Dmin7 chord I was simply amazed.

Reviewer: Randy Brecker


Wayne Shorter: Black Orpheus (Take 4)

Track

Black Orpheus, take 4

Artist

Wayne Shorter (tenor sax)

CD

Wayning Moments (Vee-Jay 3029)

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Musicians:

Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Jymie Merritt (bass),

Eddie Higgins (piano), Marshall Thompson (drums)

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Composed by Luiz Bonfá

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Recorded: Chicago, Illinois; 1962

Albumcoverwayneshorterwayningmoments

Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

This early Freddie Hubbard solo really impacted me. What was interesting about it (and about the whole album for that matter) was that the record company must have ‘prompted’ Wayne Shorter to keep the tracks short (they average around 4:00 each), but every solo is a compact gem. In particular, Freddie’s fluidity and time grab you, yet he’s relaxed and you can tell he’s holding way back because he knows he has only one chorus. Still, the way he built that chorus really impressed me—as did everyone with their short solos on this record. Classic, understated, concise, but meaty solos from everyone involved; a real lesson in brevity. Elsewhere on the album, there are great early Wayne Shorter tunes and arrangements. Take your pick! And check out Freddie on "Powder Keg." Ouch! Burning.

Reviewer: Randy Brecker


Freddie Hubbard: Byrdlike

Track

Byrdlike

Artist

Freddie Hubbard (trumpet)

CD

Ready for Freddie (Blue Note Records 90837)

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Musicians:

Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), McCoy Tyner (piano), Art Davis (bass), Elvin Jones (drums),

Bernard McKinney (euphonium)

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Composed by Freddie Hubbard

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Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on August 21, 1961

Albumcoverfreddiehubbardreadyforfreddie

Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

Called ‘Birdlike’ on the record, this tune was actually written by Freddie for Donald Byrd, although everyone assumed it was for Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker. But no matter. This tune is a staple for jam sessions and gigs; when you’re stuck on the bandstand for something to play and you call ‘Byrdlike,’ you know everyone will know it (except for the intro maybe). As far as the solo, there probably isn’t a young jazz trumpet player alive today who hasn’t learned it. It’s a continual wealth of ideas and hip phrasing that doesn’t stop. On his 11th chorus after a 10th really soulful (and diatonic) 12 bars, he suddenly switches to the key of A major, up a third from the root, and it makes you sit up straight!

Reviewer: Randy Brecker


Art Blakey: Pensativa

Track

Pensativa

Group

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

CD

Free For All (Blue Note 84170)

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Musicians:

Art Blakey (drums), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Cedar Walton (piano), Reggie Workman (bass).

Composed by Clare Fischer

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Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, February 10, 1964

Albumcoverartblakeyfreeforall

Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

This is one of my favorite records of all time, and every tune is a classic. I chose this track because it is the most swingin’ bossa nova ever recorded! What a great arrangement and flawless execution from all concerned! Freddie’s solo begins with a declarative statement and is filled with lyricism, and hip notes, the most swingin’ time. I love the way he anticipates the chords, his sense of dynamics, his wonderful ability to hold common tones through chords. There is a Brazilian Portuguese musician-slang word denoting a certain style of playing, Nogento, that doesn’t quite translate well into English…the closest I might come is “Stanky,” and this solo is Nogento like a m.f.!

Reviewer: Randy Brecker


Art Blakey (featuring Freddie Hubbard): Blue Moon

Track

Blue Moon

Group

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

CD

Three Blind Mice, Volume 1 (Blue Note CDP 7 84451)

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Musicians:

Art Blakey (drums), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Cedar Walton (piano), Jymie Merritt (bass).

Composed by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart

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Recorded: Live at the Renaissance Club, Los Angeles, CA, March 18, 1962

Albumcoverartblakeythreeblindmice

Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

Freddie Hubbard is a great balladeer. He grabs you from the very first phrase. Dynamics are in evidence, as is his use (or non-use) of distinctive vibrato. One can hear the influence of Clifford Brown (no trumpeter can escape that when playing a ballad), but Freddie is his own man. His second phrase at 2:35 into the tune is so memorable and literally breathtaking—it took big breath to play it! Great dynamics from the band and from Freddie. A fantastic, melodic out-chorus, all subtle twists and turns, with some great rubato phrases at the end of the arrangement (Cedar Walton’s arrangement is so inventive) and a wonderful and tasteful cadenza. In short, music wins over technique.

Reviewer: Randy Brecker


Art Blakey: Caravan

Track

Caravan

Group

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

CD

Caravan (Fantasy OJC 038)

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Musicians:

Art Blakey (drums), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Reggie Workman (bass).

Composed by Duke Ellington, Juan Tizol & Irving Mills

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Artblakeycaravan

Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

Freddie Hubbard’s arrangement of "Caravan," with that impossible bridge, showcases his physicality and power as a trumpet player. The first declarative phrase sets the tone for the whole solo. Freddie played great with Art Blakey; he knew his style so well, and knew just when to either leave some space or play a phrase that would complement one of Bu’s patented fills. This solo has a real arc to it and yet remains fiery from the first note to the last.

By the way, another classic from this session is "Skylark." At 3:15 into it, listen to how Freddie comes back into at the bridge—another long and perfect ‘Freddie-phrase.’

Reviewer: Randy Brecker


Freddie Hubbard: Red Clay

Track

Red Clay

Artist

Freddie Hubbard (trumpet)

CD

Red Clay (CBS ZK 40809)

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Musicians:

Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (bass), Lenny White (drums), Joe Henderson (tenor sax).

Composed by Freddie Hubbard

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Recorded: January 27-29, 1970

Albumcoverfreddiehubbard-redclay

Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

This album was a new direction for Freddie Hubbard. It starts with a rubato section where once again Freddie is his Nogento ("Stanky") self. Then into a great tune with (for the genre) a quite musical and developed solo; funky but he also takes it out a bit—this was the first time I had heard him do that ascending lip trill thing. Nice arrangement with backgrounds behind the soloists. Joe Henderson also plays some great stuff. My buddies and I were excited when this come out, because we played frequently with Lenny White at jam sessions, and it felt to us like he had really ‘made it’ with this release.

Reviewer: Randy Brecker


Freddie Hubbard: Theme for Kareem

Track

Theme for Kareem

Artist

Freddie Hubbard (trumpet)

CD

Super-Blue (Columbia JC35386)

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Musicians:

Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Hubert Laws (flute), Joe Henderson (tenor sax), Kenny Barron (keyboards), Ron Carter (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums).

Composed by Freddie Hubbard

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Recorded: New York, March 30-31 & April 1, 4, 1978

Albumcoverfreddiehubbardsuperblue

Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

This track transports me right back to where I first heard it—my living room in 1978, the year it came out. I literally jumped to attention when I heard this track. It was kind of the culmination of everything Freddie Hubbard had done up to that point: improving his high register and smoothing out his sound (he’s playing flugelhorn on this one, I think, or a trumpet with a really dark sound), but also using all his devices—double time, single tonguing certain notes, just at the right moment, with great taste and to great effect. Freddie’s extended solo is so exciting and well thought out, right in there on top of the time—amazing. What a wonderful tune—a blues feel but ‘altered’ in true Freddie fashion. And, oh yeah, Jack DeJohnette swings his ass off!

Reviewer: Randy Brecker


Freddie Hubbard: Breaking Point

Track

Breaking Point

Artist

Freddie Hubbard (trumpet)

CD

Breaking Point (Blue Note BLP4172)

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Musicians:

Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), James Spaulding (alto sax), Joe Chambers (drums),

Eddie Khan (bass), Ronnie Matthews (piano)

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Composed by Freddie Hubbard

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Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, N.J., May 7, 1964

Albumcoverfreddiehubbardbreakingpoint

Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

Freddie Hubbard occasionally delved into more avant realms, and this track is a good example. A great tune—tune within a tune, actually—and arrangement by Freddie. Harmonically he takes it ‘out’ quite a bit, but the out-ness is always flawlessly executed. Unlike a lot of the free jazz trumpet players of the day, who would just blow air into the horn and move their fingers really fast, Freddie’s playing lines. Some nice collective playing on this one, too.

Reviewer: Randy Brecker


Wayne Shorter: Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum

Track

Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum

Artist

Wayne Shorter (tenor sax)

CD

Speak No Evil (Blue Note BLP 4194)

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Musicians:

Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (bass), Elvin Jones (drums).

Composed by Wayne Shorter

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Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December 24, 1964

Albumcoverwayneshorter-speaknoevil

Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

On this date, not only are the tunes classic, everyone’s solos stand out as some of the most classic of all time. After the first declarative phrase, Freddie Hubbard comes down a bit, using dynamics, then gets funky and bends notes as only he can. At 1:48 he takes a phrase, repeats it a little differently each time, and ends his solo definitively. It should be noted that these are not particularly easy chord changes, and Freddie effortlessly snakes his way through them.

Reviewer: Randy Brecker


Herbie Hancock (featuring Freddie Hubbard): Dolphin Dance

Track

Dolphin Dance

Artist

Herbie Hancock (piano)

CD

Maiden Voyage (Blue Note 95331)

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Musicians:

Herbie Hancock (piano), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), George Coleman (tenor sax), Ron Carter (bass), Tony Williams (drums).

Composed by Herbie Hancock

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Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, N.J., March 17, 1965

Albumcoverhhancockmvoyage

Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

What can I say? Another classic album. Freddie’s solo is total music from beginning to end. Once again, difficult changes and he makes music out of them instead of just running the changes—this solo is so lyrical and melodic, it could be vocalesed by someone. Plus, Freddie is just ‘digging into the time’ like he’s carrying a shovel with him.

Reviewer: Randy Brecker


Freddie Hubbard: Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise

Track

Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise

Artist

Freddie Hubbard (trumpet)

CD

Above and Beyond (Metropolitan Records, MR 113)

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Musicians:

Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Billy Childs (piano), Herbie Lewis (bass), Louis Hayes (drums).

Composed by Oscar Hammerstein II and Sigmund Romberg

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Recorded: Live at Keystone Korner, San Francisco, June 17, 1982

Albumcoverfreddiehubbardaboveandbeyond

Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

This CD probably is less well known than it should be. I recollect that someone handed it to me on an airplane. It documents Freddie Hubbard live at Todd Barkan’s Keystone Korner, where he did many excellent live recordings. This extended up-tempo version of "Softly" is relentless. Freddie pushes himself to his outer limits; just when you think he’s going to come crashing down, he somehow reinvigorates himself and comes up with another bunch of choruses. This is how I remember Freddie live—simply mind-boggling.

Reviewer: Randy Brecker


…..wow that’s 12 already! Well, these are just the tip of the veritable iceberg. I hope they lead you to some other amazing Freddie moments—they are not hard to find since there are so many. We wish Freddie Hubbard the best of everything!


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