In Black America; Jazz Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard
. . . . . . . . . . In Black America, reflections of the Black experience in American society. The older I get, the more I'm depending on, of feeling. Because I really think that feeling is the most important factor in jazz. Freddie Hubbard now stands at the pinnacle of his career.
Recently, he was voted best trumpet player in the world in Downbeat magazine's Reader's Pole. Jazz critic Leonard Feather called Mr. Hubbard the satchmo of the 70s. Freddie Hubbard is considered the most important trumpeter to make the transition from hard-bop to contemporary jazz. I'm John Hanson, and this week, our focus is on jazz legend Freddie Hubbard in Black America. A lot of people try to put jazz down because they don't realize how difficult it is. I mean, they don't realize it. You just don't pick up an instrument, play it. It takes time, it takes concentration, it takes study, and musicians. Younger musicians are not coming out of schools, and it's changing the whole presentation of jazz. And I think people will have more respect in the future for the music because they'll find out it's very meaningful. And it's the only creative music from this country. You see what I'm saying? It's the only art farm in this country because the rest of the stuff comes from New York, or some other country.
Jazz, being extension of the blues, and the gospel is a looseness, certain looseness about it, that everybody can't do. And people think, you know, when you say jazz, you know, jazz it up, I mean, it's just like you're just mucking around. But it's emotional, isn't it? Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah. Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard has spent much of his life making people happy with his music. The youngest of six children, Frederick Duane Hubbard, was born on April 7, 1938. He began his musical studies in junior high school on a tornet, then moved to the E-flat horn, the tuba, the French horn, and finally the trumpet. In 1958, Hubbard moved from his hometown of Indianapolis to New York.
While in New York, Hubbard build up considerable experience with JJ Johnson's sextet, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, and Sy Hampton. In 1961, he was able to showcase his talent with Art Blakely's messengers. With the help of Miles Davis, Hubbard landed a recording project with Blue Note Records. There he recorded on his own name, and it's a side man with Herbie Hancock, Dexter Gordon, and others. It was not until he signed with CTI Records in the early 70s and recorded Red Clay that he transcended into a superstar. In 1974, Hubbard signed with Columbia Records. To date, Freddie Hubbard has recorded over 18 albums. You know, it's a funny thing, a friend of mine, James Pauling, a young alto player from Indianapolis. At the time, we were both playing together in a group called the Jazz Contemporaries, and he said, well, man, let's get out of town because we've done just about as much as we could do there in the city, you know, in terms of playing in music and relating it to the people.
So he decided to go to Chicago, and he wanted me to go with him, because we used to go every weekend to make the jam sessions. But for some reason, West Montgomery had left Indianapolis and went to New York, and he said it would be better for me to go to New York and play with the guys and get the music firsthand. You know, from the musicians there. So I figured it would be better for me to go on in New York. What influence did your parents have on you becoming a musician? Well, you know, my family was very religious, especially my mother, and she would make me play my horn in church, you know. I would have to learn some spirituals, and they didn't want me to play in clubs and play jazz. And it took a lot of convincing to, you know, I almost had to get famous. I had to go to New York and make a record before I could come back to Indianapolis, you know, because they considered jazz doing that time to be the devil's music.
But they didn't know anything about the background of the music, and once I made a name for myself, they accepted me, playing the music. Before jazz you were offered in the bebop, were you playing bebop, and that was one of the reasons why they didn't want you to play this type of music if it wasn't religious? Yes. Well, you know, as you know, jazz has a lot of kind of bad connotations in terms of most of the musicians being drug addicts and great people like Charlie Parker and Miles, and all these people have been known as being using drugs. And so they figured that I would be involved in that, you know, when I was still drinking milk, you know, and I still do, as a matter of fact. And I think that my upbringing would always keep me from getting involved too heavily, you know, and at all in drugs, because you can't play the music, you know. And that's, I think that's one of the reasons they want me to play jazz, because of the people that you sometimes come in contact with.
But she doesn't know that there are other people who are involved in drugs, not just musicians. If I had musicians that last on the pole, I would say. Why did you happen to choose to trump it over the cornette? The cornette never really gave me the strength that I wanted. I mean, you know, like, because I put a lot of strength in my playing, a lot of energy, and the trumpet is the master instrument to me. You know, like Gabriel, not gonna be able to go days, I mean, when you blow that, everybody listens, you know. But my sister played the trumpet, you know, and she would come home and be practicing classical music. And I would always say, let's play some jazz, you know, let's change it up. And it became like a challenge to me, you know, to play the trumpet, because it seemed like the trumpet was always a leader, and I always wanted to be a leader. I had a very good teacher there who took me off the streets, and he said, for you, you seem to have, you know, some musical ability, and so why don't you further it.
And he gave me some private instructions, and he had my mother buy me a trumpet, and I could play basketball on all that, and it became serious about a trumpet at 11. And then I went to an awesome technical school, and then I was, it's not private, but they had more subjects you could take in music. You know, like, for instance, I was taking conducting in high school, music theory, which was at the Christmas addicts, I may have not been able to take those subjects. And then I left there, I graduated from there, and went to a John Conservatory, my stay for a year. And I got a scholarship on French horn, because I started playing French horn in high school. And I could never read as good as a lot of the other guys on a trumpet, but I could read the French horn music faster, so I got a scholarship on that. But after I got into the school with the scholarship with the French horn, the trumpet took over, you know, after I heard Clifford Brown, and dizzying those people, you know.
And it just turned me around. After I heard them play that music, all that classical music and all that, this kind of became secondary. Whereas it was first, you know, at that time, because you have to learn the instrument, you know, kind of the correct way to play, as they say. At least I got that, I got a bit of that. I was going to ask you some of the contemporaries that influence you and the styles in which particularly drew you more into playing Gable's horn. You know, when I first started off in Indianapolis listening to jazz, I listened to people like Bird and Diz, but I couldn't understand them, you know, such early age. So when I did, I started off listening to and studying people like Chad Baker and Mulligan, because their music was more simple, but it was still jazz. And they had these play along records, you know, they would have a rhythm section, and you could play, you know, read the music, you could read the music and play along with the rhythm section on the record, like you right there with the guys.
So that got me started, but then after I learned my instrument a little more, it seems as though I started hearing Clifford in miles and Kenny Dom, people like that. And they became my influences. When you got to New York professionally, you started playing with JJ Johnson, Sex Text, and then you got with Art Blakely and the Messages. How did that develop you as an individual trumpeter in playing with these great musicians? You know, JJ used to play so in tune that I would constantly have to pull my slide and I'll pull it out, and I found out that you had to get an ombusher to play, the brass instrument. Otherwise, I mean your intonation will be bad, and you'll just hurt yourself.
So he helped me in a sense of being able to play the horn correctly, and in playing with people like Sunny Rowlands, there was a thing in coaching, people like that. It was a thing that you had to practice, you know, to get good at your kind of stuff. So I spent a lot of time practicing, knowing that in those 20s. In my 20s, it was like practice all day, you know. In the infant years, you were associated with some great drummers, Philly Joe Jones, Art Mark, Liskos on and on. Do you have a fascination for drummers, or do you seem that drummers go along better with trumpeters? Well, you know, it's like the drum back to the drum and bugle call. I used to play the drum and bugle call when I was in Indianapolis. You know, you do the marches on the holidays and all that. But I always had a fascination for people like Art Blakey and Philly Joe and Max, because these are the guys who kind of innovated. I mean, they were innovating with the drums and the style of music.
And they have a deep rooted sense of jazz. And whenever you play with them, it's like, oh, I'm home again, you know. It's such a feeling. I just left Japan with Art. We did three weeks in Japan. And let me tell you, you know, it's like you get the Holy Ghost playing with these people. You really feel, you know, the essence of the music and they're serious about it when they play. You know, it's just something that they started and they're trying to help young kids. And they really want you to keep playing the music, keep it alive. And it becomes kind of difficult sometimes, but after you play with people like Art Blakey and Philly Joe, Max, you know that you got to play. A lot of jazz critics speak of Freddie Hubbard and the same breath as the late, and it's going to escape me. Satsuma, I'm strong and also the late John Coltrane and with Miles Davis. How do you feel about being classified in those group of immortals? You know, it's a funny thing.
I used to listen to those guys records all day and all night. You know, it was like, wow, someday I'll get a chance to meet Miles, you know. So after I got to New York, I went up to him and I said, Oh, Miles Davis, hey, I'm Freddie Hubbard, I play trumpet. And so he didn't speak to me for two years, you know, because I mean, you know, they're big-time people, you know. And they get so many people coming up to him, but to be classified in the same, you know, on the same level with them is really silly, because those are the guys that started the music. I'm just an extension. I think people should realize that, you know, when you think about Louis and you think about Roy, Elders and Dizzy, those people, when they started this music, I mean, I'm just a young baby in the woods. I mean, comparing to them, it's just that the music has taken on new farms and there's new techniques. And, hey, man, it changes. You know, just like you got this kid went to my cellars, you know, he can play classical NJs, you know.
That was unheard of, you know. Now his jazz isn't as good as his classical music. You see him, because it's usually unheard of to hear a black guy, black man play classical music. That good, you see. But for them to put him on the level of Freddie or Miles or Dizzy with the jazz thing, I mean, it takes time. You know, same thing happened to me when I was 22, you know, like Lee Morgan was getting too big, so I joined off Blakey. And it just goes on down the line. I mean, but there are new farms and there's always somebody else coming. And that's what makes it great. There's always a young kid coming out with a new energy, a new technique to keep the music going. But people should realize that the guys who really started the music, like Dizzy and Miles and Bird now, there's no comparison. In your early days, particularly CTI and blue notes, your albums feature George Benson, Ayeto, Yuba Laws, Phil Up Church. What is it like playing with those kind of musicians?
Because you all can't get together as you did in the past because you are so big and went on in different direction. So playing with those guys and the energy and the intellectual musicians ship that they have. Well, you know, I used to play, I had a chance to hire George Benson, like I used to lend him money. You know, he's rich and famous. He paid you back? No, he didn't. He paid me back. But his music on first light, I want to grab him with that record, 72. So he paid me back and he made a super blue with me. So I mean, it's nothing. But Phil Up Church, he helped George Benson get rich too. He laid down a groove for all of the people who don't know that. Phil Up Church is bad too. Right. Well, just, you know, he sings and he was able to get over. But it's kind of hard for us to get together sometimes because it gets in the contract from differences in the music. You know, changes.
Unless you really don't tell him something so kind of funky, you wouldn't necessarily think of him, you know, to be on the album with you. But I think that's a good idea. It would be a good idea if I started getting back together because all the music is related. But the record companies will get in there and say, look, he doesn't play hip as you. You don't play as funky as he does. So you shouldn't record together. Hey, man, can you imagine how beautiful it would be if Castle Night, George Benson would get with BB King, or I would get with Miles, Matt and Woody, or, you know, Dizzy, or what, and get together and play. What happens on festivals? But to make records and for guys to really appreciate each other, that's something that's going to happen. It's coming around, back around. People will begin to realize that the music is what's first. This gets coming around. Guys are getting more of a business sense now. But it would be great to get all these guys together, you know what I mean? I think it would. I was going to ask you, how has the industry, from your standpoint,
being a jazz musician, changed over the last 25 years, you've been directly involved with the creativity, the attitudes that record producers and record companies have towards jazz musicians, and the consumers about the products in which you are a producer? See, now, I was a CBS for seven years, and there was a lot of turmoil during that period, because I don't think I was really, I wasn't satisfied with exactly what I was coming out with. I was trying to reach more people with diffusion music, you know, like jazz and rock, you know, mix, combine, the drum beats and guitars, and it gave me a headache, you know? Because I had this inner thing that was saying, Freddie, you're not really expressing what you want to express, but you know that you have to sell records, and you want people to, you know, come see you. And so if you don't make something that's commercial, then the record companies usually won't promote it properly. So, you know, you don't have as many fans. So I tried that, and it didn't work,
because I wasn't satisfied within, you see, to play, you know, that kind of music. So, you know, I'm going to then, because everybody out and stuff, you know, went off, and I shouldn't have done it, but I got to, my chance, you know, I tell myself, like, I'm going to play music the way I'm going to play it. You know, I'm the ones playing the trumpet, you know, but it's deeper than that, you know? It involves business, and if you want to stay out here and make a living playing jazz, you have to have a certain amount of business sense about you to maintain yourself, stay out here. Now, some guys, they like to go all the way to the left, you know, and play the funk, might hear it, but you know, I mean, there's somebody making a thing, he can still play. But my thing is, is so deeply ingrained in, with the jazz thing, that I would either have to go all the way back to the blues, and get down with that, or go strictly to the jazz thing, you see, and it's not too much in between. What's on the future for Freddie Hubbard? Any albums, working on any film scores?
I haven't done any film scores yet, man, that's really something I like to do. But, you know, since I moved to the West Coast, it slowed down, because before, when I was leaving New York and coming out late, Quincy never called me having to come in, but my money level went up, you know. So, you know, it puts it on another level in terms of me getting what I, you know, what, to make a record date. So, they figured I can get somebody else a little cheaper, maybe. It's like big, excuse me, big money for me. So, I haven't been on a lot of things, but most of my work has been back east. Really? Yes, because I found out the musicians that I have to play with on the West Coast are as good as there was on the East Coast, so they don't give me that energy to make me want to play, you know. And, slightly any particular reason why? Well, jazz music is thought of in a different way on the West Coast.
You know, it's not, I think it's the history, you know. I mean, their interest in the lifestyle is not conducive to practicing and coming up with new innovative ideas or, you know. It's a different lifestyle, and most of the thing out in L.A. is film and video. So, I've done a few of those that you may, I think I did a kind of a commercial one called Ride Like the Wind. I don't know if you've seen it, but when I made the album, I made the video. So, and it was kind of in a funk vein, so maybe they'll put on a more commercial station. But most of my videos have been on the PBS, you know, public broadcast. So, it's going to be a thing of me doing more big bands. You know, I've been doing a lot of clinics and I've been playing a lot of universities in my charts. And I come in and rehearse and I'll try to explain something about the music to the kids.
It's opening up for me. It's just that a lot of people thought of Freddie Hubbard as a kind of a wild guy, you know, like a fun. Which I like to have fun, but you know, I'm a loader now and it's a little more serious, you know. So, what I'm going to do now is I've got my publishing set up pretty well. Now, I'm coming out with a book and I'm going to do that and just keep playing. I'm going to do that. I'm going to do that. I'm going to do that.
Trumpeter, Freddie Hubbard. If you have a comment or like to purchase a cassette copy of this program, write us your address is in Black America, Longhorn Radio Network, Austin, Texas, 78712. For in Black America's technical producer Cliff Hardgrove, I'm John Hanson. Join us next week. You've been listening to in Black America, reflections of the Black experience in American society. In Black America is produced and distributed by the Center for Telecommunication Services at UT Austin,
and does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Texas at Austin or the station. This is the Longhorn Radio Network.
- In Black America
- Jazz Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard
- Producing Organization
- KUT Radio
- Contributing Organization
- KUT Radio (Austin, Texas)
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- on his music career and the status of modern day jazz
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- This record is part of the Music section of the Soul of Black Identity special collection.
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- University of Texas at Austin
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Copyright Holder: KUT
Guest: Freddie Hubbard
Host: John L. Hanson
Producing Organization: KUT Radio
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Identifier: IBA21-84 (KUT Radio)
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- Chicago: “In Black America; Jazz Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard,” 1984-04-01, KUT Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 23, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-529-mp4vh5dr8x.
- MLA: “In Black America; Jazz Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard.” 1984-04-01. KUT Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 23, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-529-mp4vh5dr8x>.
- APA: In Black America; Jazz Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. Boston, MA: KUT Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-529-mp4vh5dr8x