Greenleaf Music is an independent music label that has released music by Dave Douglas, Nicole Mitchell, Michael Bates, Kneebody and Donny McCaslin. They run a very interesting and insightful blog and today I stumbled upon an entry written by Dave Douglas on Freddie Hubbard's complete mastery of the trumpet. Shortly after Freddie died I wrote up a quick blog entry but didn't come close to explaining what he really meant to so many trumpet players. Typically I like to stay as far away from nerdy trumpet shit as possible, but the following is very interesting:
Freddie Hubbard was one of the most skilled practitioners of this art. The joy and freedom in his playing came in part from this complete mastery of the instrument. It always sounded effortless. In the high range his control of air was so sublime that his lines sometimes defied the laws of physics and harmony, resolving in odd ways just by dint of his total domination of the instrument. Freddie grabbed the opportunity of those alternate fingerings to pop in and out of chromatic chord and scale ideas. His attack was always precise and his dodging and darting lines flowed like water through a sluiceway.
A lot of people can play the trumpet well. Technical mastery is far from the reason Freddie Hubbard is the most imitated player of the last half-century. It was what he did with that mastery -- the inventiveness of his harmonies and the ingenuity of his rhythmic propulsion. Freddie's impact is so profound that you often don't have to mention him when noting a young player's influences. Freddie is always there. He had a lot to say, and we all soaked it up.
As a young player Freddie listened to Clifford Brown for sure. He also drank deeply at the well of Clifford's inspirations: Fats Navarro, Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, and Louis Armstrong, among many others. But trumpeters aren't the only influence for trumpeters. In the same way that Clifford Brown talked about putting Charlie Parker's language on the trumpet, Freddie Hubbard brought the practices of John Coltrane, his occasional practice-mate, directly into the brass world.
Freddie's lines drove the harmony. Freddie toyed with the music, anticipating and delaying resolutions in unexpected ways. But at the end of the day it was the maturity of his improvisations that were the most powerful aspect of his musical expression. Freddie at his best could go nuts with the lines and the harmony, but he would also ease off and play with bluesy simplicity when it more effectively served the moment.
Read the full article HERE.