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  Lee and Freddie  
  by Dustin Garlitz  
     
 

        November 2004:

       Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard are two of the preeminent trumpet players of the 1960s hard-bop Blue Note Records classic jazz era.  They were in many ways rival instrumentalists (the same way tenor saxophonists Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane were in the late 1950s), both competing and being called for work at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio.  It was only a reason of availability (not talent or ability) that one or the other would appear in one of Alfred Lion’s sessions.  The only other trumpet player of Lee and Freddie’s very narrowly defined generation (which leaves out Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, and Kenny Dorham) that carries similar significance would be Donald Byrd.

       One date of Freddie’s that you shouldn’t miss includes tenor man Wayne Shorter's track Devil’s Island.  The eerie sounding theme is performed with an addictive swing that seems to fade in and out on a 360 degree stage in Bentham/Foucault’s panopticon.  If you want to travel through some unexplored territory with Lee, try trombonist Grachan Moncur’s Blue Note album Evolution or his own Search for the New Land (which is rivaled only by the Donald Byrd performance on Jackie Mclean’s New Soil).

      Classic Blue Note albums for Lee are The Sidewinder and Cornbeard.  My Gainesville, Florida saxophone teacher David Sloane would perform the title track to The Sidewinder a lot with his band ‘Dave’s Dilemma’ (which included Bruce Shepard and Mike Summers on saxophones as well) at the Market Street Pub not to far from the campus of the University of Florida.  Cornbread includes a wonderful, bluesy rendition of Ill Wind.  The album ends with an original piece titled Most Like Lee.  This track features Jackie Mclean really improvising well over the chord changes.  Search for the New Land is a more experimental side of Lee that has some great playing by Grant Green.

      One of Freddie’s first albums for Blue Note (along with Ready for Freddie) was Open Sesame.  The title track is a minor blues with a structured bridge that fits the melody well.  The track Gypsy Blue reminds me of Caravan, except it has a gentler melody that becomes more poignant with repetition.  Although Open Sesame was a great album, Hubbard’s big success was with Hub Tones (which was released a few years later).     

     You can hear Freddie as sideman on saxophonists Ornette Coleman and Wayne Shorter records.  Lee was also a sideman for Wayne Shorter, as well as for John Coltrane.

     Hubbard, in interviews, has talked about his relationship with Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Eric Dolphy.  Freddie would practice with Trane, then run a mile to Newk’s apartment and show him what they were working on.  After his practicing with Rollins, Freddie would visit Coltrane a couple of days later and show him the ideas that Sonny had been working on.  He said that all that running back and forth took off a year of his life!  Concerning Eric Dolphy, who was Freddie’s roommate, Hubbard said he would wake up in the morning to find the multi-instrumentalist practicing flute out in their garden.  Hubbard told a Jazz Times interviewer that Eric was all into nature, etc. 

     Freddie now lives in a Los Angeles suburb; Lee was tragically killed at the New York City jazz club Slugs in the 1970s.