Freddie Hubbard died today at Sherman Oaks Hospital. He was 70.
I've always been a freak for the jazz trumpeter and still remember the first time I caught him live, in the early '80s at, of all places, Carnation Gardens at Disneyland–about as far as one can get from a smoke-filled gin joint. Back in those days, the Anaheim theme park drew some pretty righteous performers for jazz and blues festivals that had acts sprinkled all over the Magic Kingdom. I also recall seeing Leon Russell there only a few years after men with hair that long were not allowed through the gates.
Blocking an unrelenting sun with shades that had slid to the end of his nose, Freddie blew his horn with gusto alongside a tight group of sidemen for three or four shows that day, and I was there each time, watching this legend from mere yards away, with no more than 50 or 100 people around the makeshift stage.
Besides seeing him live at the Big D and at one of those jazz festivals in Long Beach that was either at Long Beach State, next to the Queen Mary or in the ocean-front park where they hold everything these days, I built up a collection of Hubbard vinyls that are still collecting dust in my garage. Most are solo albums, some shared efforts with another late, great jazzman, tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine.
It's time to break out the record player–and some gin.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.