Hub Cap

>> Saturday, January 03, 2009

I'm a little embarrassed: I'm only learning today that jazz legend Freddie Hubbard passed away on Monday. What's embarrassing is that I have to admit: I didn't realize Hubbard was still with us.

He was a musician I stumbled upon by accident: Columbia House had Straight Life on sale and I bought it on a lark. It was one of those spur of the moment purchases that ends up being one of the best decisions you ever made--I only own a handful of Hubbard albums now (Red Clay, Hub Cap, and Sky Dive being the other three I own), but, oh, how that man knew how to blow a horn.

I think my favorite trumpet player is probably--clichéd as it might be--Miles, because there's just such a--okay, clichés again, but they're clichés because they're true--cool, suave aloofness to early Miles and such a savage, almost mad intensity to Davis' later recordings. Miles was, as I've said before, the dude who taught me what jazz was and why it was actually awesome.

But Freddie Hubbard, you know, Hubbard is someone to listen to when all is right with the world or you want it to be. I don't know if that makes sense or not. It's not that Hubbard couldn't do sad, slow pieces--he was talented enough to do whatever the hell he wanted to and even his weaker pieces are made of awesome. But what Hubbard really did right, what he really excelled at was stuff that made you want to put on a pair of shades and strut. Miles Davis, you know, Miles is intense. I'm not sure that Hubbard was really any less-accomplished, technically speaking, hell, he might even, I hate to say it, might even have been a shade more accomplished on the horn (there will be an example of his playing in just another moment, and you can listen and watch for yourself), but it's kind of, I don't know, kind of the difference between a spring day and a dark and stormy night, Hubbard and Miles.

Shit, Freddie Hubbard is gone and I didn't even realize he was still around. I guess I lumped him in with Davis' and Coltrane's generation even though, intellectually, I knew he was part of a younger gang that included Hancock (who I've had the privilege of seeing live), John McLaughlin, et al. He had a fairly good run--seventy is younger than it used to be, these days, but it's still a solid span of years and Hubbard spent them well with a string of good records to his name; so his passing away maybe isn't wholly a surprise--but, shit! Freddie Hubbard died!

Do yourself a favor, please: pick up Straight Life. Or Red Clay. They are seriously good albums, and I don't think you have to be "into" jazz to dig what a good player Hubbard was and how much those records get into a groove and just pull you along, even in their more somber moments. (And no, I'm not trying to get you to click on my Amazon Associates links--buy Straight Life at your local brick-and-mortar next time you're out, hell, see if they have it next time you're in Best Buy, just pick it up.)

And here, hopefully making the sale--Freddie Hubbard performs the title track from Straight Life. Nineteen-seventy-five, with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Airto Moreira--helluva band backing him, there! Thank you, Freddie, thank you.


vince Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 9:26:00 AM EST  

Damn, Eric, your musical tastes are awesome. I hadn't realized Hubbard had died, either.

And Airto Moreira, what a pleasure to see him on percussion. That man has played with everyone, and in my opinion, there is no better percussionist alive today.

kimby Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 7:41:00 PM EST  

I had posted on my facebook that he had passed, but I didn't realize that others knew who he was.....I should have known better and blogged about it.

Nice post Eric.

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