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Freddie Hubbard Leaves Permanent Mark On Jazz

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Freddie Hubbard Leaves Permanent Mark On Jazz

Remembrances

Freddie Hubbard Leaves Permanent Mark On Jazz

Freddie Hubbard Leaves Permanent Mark On Jazz

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Jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard captivated audiences with his explosive performances from the fifties on. He died Monday at age 70 from complications following a heart attack.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Now, some sad news from the jazz world. Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard died yesterday in Los Angeles after complications from a heart attack. As a young musician, Freddie Hubbard earned wide critical praise for his gifted technical play and his spontaneity.

ALEX COHEN, host:

In the 1960s, Freddie Hubbard landed gigs on some of the most influential jazz albums including John Coltrane's "Ascension" and Herbie Hancock's "Empyrian Aisles."

(Soundbite of jazz music)

COHEN: Freddie Hubbard was born in Indianapolis in 1938. He moved to New York City and was hailed as one of jazz music's brightest new stars. Hubbard was barely in his 20s when he began performing with jazz giants Sonny Rollins and Slide Hampton.

BRAND: By the 1970s, Freddie Hubbard was a jazz celebrity. He joined Miles Davis in experimenting with pop and electronic elements. His famous intensity on the trumpet only eased when he split his lip. It was an injury that crippled Hubbard's playing. But he had already made his mark. And in 2006, Freddie Hubbard was honored with a Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

(Soundbite of jazz music)

COHEN: Jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, he died yesterday. He was 70 years old.

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Jazz Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard Dies

Jazz Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard Dies

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Hear a 2001 Interview

Hear Hubbard's Music

Pensativa

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Red Clay

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First Light

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Jazz innovator Freddie Hubbard sometimes played his trumpet is if it were a saxophone. Philippe Levy-Stab / Corbis hide caption

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Philippe Levy-Stab / Corbis

Freddie Hubbard was one of the most powerful and lyrical horn players of the past 50 years. He was born in Indianapolis and mentored by his neighbor, guitarist Wes Montgomery. Hubbard moved to New York in 1958 and quickly rose to prominence as a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.

Freddie Hubbard had extraordinary chops, strong feeling and a progressive impulse. He recorded with some of the most forward thinking jazz stars of that era — John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, and Herbie Hancock among them. Hubbard also brought his melodic, experimental sound to more conventional sessions, such as Oliver Nelson's Blues and the Abstract Truth. In a 2001 NPR interview, Hubbard said that in the 1960s he didn't even think of his instrument as a trumpet.

"During that period I was changing the style of the trumpet. I was trying to play the trumpet like a saxophone. I was playing more intervals. And I was trying to make those long glissandos. Trumpet players don't do that."

Hubbard was generally acknowledged as an influence on his instrument second only to Miles Davis. While Davis was always more famous, Hubbard's 1970's albums such as Red Clay and Straight Life were more commercially successful than Davis's iconoclastic output of the same period.

Despite his popularity, or because of it, Freddie Hubbard was criticized for selling out in the later half of his career. He continued to tour the world, playing his horn until he split his lip in 1992. He did not take very good care of himself and the lip never healed properly. Still, he did not rest, and recorded several comeback albums with the New Jazz Composers Octet, assisted by a second trumpeter.

"I'm not going to play that way again," Hubbard said. "As far as giving up all the thirty choruses I used to play. And I used to play with such intensity — trying to play like Coltrane and play hard and long. I think now, I have to dig down and play with more soul."

Maybe he believed he'd never play that way again, but he never stopped trying. The National Endowment for the Arts named Hubbard a Jazz Master in 2006. He released a new album, On The Real Side, in June, 2008.

Freddie Hubbard died early Monday morning, December 29th in Los Angeles. He was 70 years old.