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Night Lights Classic Jazz

Freddie Hubbard: The CTI Years

In the early 1970s trumpeter Freddie Hubbard made a series of records for the CTI label that combined hardbop, funk, modality, and 70s groove.

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Freddie Hubbard CTI

Photo: album cover art

Hubbard's FIRST LIGHT reflected emerging commercial aspects of the trumpeter's early-1970s direction and did not go over well with some jazz critics.

By the end of the 1960s Freddie Hubbard was one of the top jazz trumpeters in the world. He was 32 years old, already a veteran of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, with numerous notable leader and sideman dates to his credit. But he had yet to attain the kind of relative commercial success that his trumpet-playing elders Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie had achieved.

At the same time, the landscape of jazz in 1970 was teeming with new sounds, as the influence of rock, R & B, and funk began to show up in the music of Davis and others. Hubbard signed with producer Creed Taylor’s CTI label and fired his own salvo across that landscape with the album Red Clay. Forty years later in a JazzTimes retrospective Bill Milkowski wrote that

By blending drummer Lenny White’s infectious backbeats, Herbie Hancock’s electric piano, Ron Carter’s electric and upright basslines and Joe Henderson’s snaky, tumultuous tenor sax lines with Hubbard’s own fiery hardbop sensibilities, Creed Taylor’s crew helped forge a new language with Red Clay, essentially putting a hip new suit of ‘now’ threads on soul-jazz for the baby-boom generation.

Hubbard would follow Red Clay with further extensions of his newfound CTI sound over the next three years. We’ll hear music from First Light and Sky Dive, as well as some of Hubbard’s appearances on other musicians’ dates for the CTI label.

Music Heard On This Episode

Here's That Rainy Day
Freddie Hubbard — Straight Life (CTI, 2011)
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album cover
Here's That Rainy Day
Freddie Hubbard — Straight Life (CTI, 2011)
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Red Clay
Freddie Hubbard — Red Clay (Sony/CTI, 2010)
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Sugar (excerpt)
Stanley Turrentine — Sugar (Sony/CTI, 2010)
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album cover
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (midpoint music bed)
Freddie Hubbard — First Light (Sony/CTI, 2011)
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album cover
First Light
Freddie Hubbard — First Light (Sony/CTI, 2011)
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album cover
Sunflower (excerpt)
Milt Jackson — Sunflower (CTI/Sony, 2011)
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In A Mist
Freddie Hubbard — Sky Dive (Sony/CTI, 1990)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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