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Freddie Hubbard was a defining jazz trumpeter who blazed a trail of bop from the 1960s to his death in 2008. Born in Indianapolis in 1939, Hubbard led a series of bands and served as a sideman on genre-defining works – including Ornette Coleman’s landmark Free Jazz, John Coltrane’s Olé Coltrane, and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers’ Caravan. “In every situation, Hubbard projected the persona of trumpeter-as-gladiator, an image of strength, force, and self-assurance that told several generations of aspirants, ‘I’m Freddie Hubbard and you’re not,’” wrote Ted Panken for DownBeat

Hubbard passed away on December 29, 2008, but an all-star constellation of jazz performers dubbed the Hubtones honor him this year on the occasion of what would have been his 80th birthday. Performing selections from his vast body of work, Nicholas Payton, Randy Brecker, Jeremy Pelt, David Weiss, Benny Green, Vicente Archer, and Roy McCurdy pay tribute to Hubbard’s punchy tone and fierce spirit. 

Trumpeter/pianist Nicholas Payton stands as one of the most provocative players – and culture writers – in modern jazz. Recording for Verve, Blue Note, and Nonesuch, he’s accompanied Dr. John, Joe Henderson, Jill Scott, Ray Charles, and many more, all while leading combos like the Blue Note 7 and the Young Tuxedo Brass Band. 

Best known for his work blending funk, rock, and jazz, trumpeter Randy Brecker has performed alongside jazz titans such as Charles Mingus, Billy Cobham, Stanley Turrentine, and Horace Silver, and has long served as a secret weapon in the studio and on stage for artists like Frank Zappa, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and Bruce Springsteen. 

Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt emerged in the early 2000s as a firebrand player, working with Ravi Coltrane, Roy Hargrove, and Cassandra Wilson. 

As founder of the New Jazz Composers Octet, the New York-born trumpeter David Weiss caught the ear of Ben Ratliff of The New York Times, who called the Octet “the sound of the new jazz mainstream” in 1998. 

Like Hubbard himself, pianist Benny Green spent time in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, honing his thoughtful sound and performing with Hubbard, Oscar Peterson, and Ray Brown. 

Bassist Vicente Archer spent his early years playing along to Wes Montgomery and George Benson records before studying at the New England Conservatory and performing alongside Hubbard, Stanley Jordan, Wynton Marsalis, Robert Glasper, and others. 

Drummer Roy McCurdy brings a long history to his role behind the kit, having performed with Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Art Pepper, Herbie Hancock, Cannonball Adderley, and Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins, with whom he appeared on the classic 1963 LP Sonny Meets Hawk! 

Pairing a cross-generational set of players with Hubbard’s fiery compositions, the Hubtones honor the master’s memory and advance his iconic music. “From the moment he played one note, you knew that was Freddie Hubbard,” writer and critic Stanley Crouch told NPR, “So he had a sound that was distinctive as Miles Davis, as Louis Armstrong, as Clifford Brown. I mean, he's one of those trumpet players.”