In the band are Will Lee(Bass), Steve Jordan(Drums), Steve Khan(Guitar) – thanks to the eagle-eyed Jean and Doug!
Unusually for any artist celebrated here, I have three posts about Freddie Hubbard for today, the anniversary of Freddie Hubbard’s birthday on April 7th, 1938, 85 years ago. This post is a personal recollection on April 24th, 1984 when Hubs appeared on the Late Show With Letterman; the other two posts are long form research essays on two important jazz social/political events that Freddie Participated in.
Freddie Hubbard was known for both the intensity of his playing, as well as his melodic style https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/latimes/name/freddie-hubbard-obituary?pid=121952533. As a young musician, he was revered among his peers for a fiery, blazing style that allowed him to hit notes higher and faster than just about anyone else with a horn. In the latter stages of his career his style slowed, and his style switched to a softer, melodic style on the flugelhorn.
The only time I saw Freddie “live” was on Letterman. I’d moved to New York in 1983, aged 25, to work on some world leading tech’ at Chemical Bank in lower Manhattan. The following year, a short-term rental in Greenwhich Village, and an apartment in Forrest Hills in Queens, were both behind me and I was living out in Huntingdon on Long Island. Tech’ in those days was different, but the same. Long hours, late home. I used to get one of the last trains from Hunters point station out to Long Island. The bank let us book a cab to anywhere in the city when we worked past 9:30pm, Hunters Point was just beyond the mid-town tunnel in Long Island City. I’d drive home from the station in my red Mercury Capri https://news.classicindustries.com/mercurys-second-pony-car-the-1979-1986-mercury-capri, and got home usually a few minutes before the show started, in those days Letterman was in the 12:30am slot.
Seeing this video of Freddie puts me right back on the Laura Ashley couch in the front room of a duplex just a few blocks from Huntington High School, it’s after midnight on April 25th, 1984.
Watching the video evokes a visceral reaction, just so good. While we lived in the Huntingdon area, for a couple of years before moving back to the UK. We shared a baby sitter, Suzie, with Billy Joel and Christy Brinkley. Freddie Hubbard played trumpet on Joel’s 52nd Street track, Zanzibar. Listen to it and right around the 3-minute mark… You’ll never hear the track the same way again, especially in this extended version.
It’s more than ironic though, that 14-years after the Jazz And People’s Movement, although Freddie stood-in with the band for the whole show, he wasn’t really on the show, just a musician.
Happy Born day Freddie.
The two other posts today cover an important, but often overlooked or dismissed part of the Freddie Hubbard pantheon. They are both social/political in nature, both entirely easily understood given the context of black musicians in New York City in 1970-71.
The first post is about the Jazz and People Movement, primarily founded by Rahsaan Roland Kirk. It would lead to Freddie Hubbard’s first late night TV appearance on the Dick Cavett show just after signing for Creed Taylor and CTI Records.
The second is an album that Freddie recorded with avant-garde Turkish composer İlhan Mimaroğlu in 1971. The Atlantic records album “Sing Me a Song of Songmy” was ground breaking for many reasons, but garnered either poor reviews, or avoidance by the jazz community. Overtime it’s importance is increasingly understood. I hope to build on that.