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Freddie Hubbard Returns from 7-Year Break with New CD, ‘On the Real Side’

Trumpet great Freddie Hubbard will return to the music scene June 24 after a seven-year hiatus with the release of On the Real Side on Times Square Records. Hubbard, who’s known for his technical brilliance and soulful sense of melody, found his career altogether changed in 1992. Years of hard playing caused his upper lip to pop, and the infected tissue was so damaged and sore that Hubbard was unable to play with the same speed, attack and endurance that he used to.

“It’s really something when you lose your chops like that,” Hubbard said

in a news release. “You feel like a motherless child. You can’t do it like you used to.”

During the mid-’90s, Hubbard almost gave up playing for good, save for the encouragement of the New Jazz Composers Octet trumpeter and arranger David Weiss. “I wanted to give up but David told me, ‘There ain’t nobody left from your era except you. So you must be here for some reason,'” Hubbard said. The octet worked with Hubbard on his 2001 release, New Colors.

Seven years later for On the Real Side, the octet backs Hubbard once more. Weiss, along with trombonist Steve Davis and bassist Dwayne Burno, re-arranged classic Hubbard tunes, including “SkyDive,” “Gibraltar,” “Life Flight,” and “Up Jumped Spring.” The album includes one new original track, “On the Real Side,” with guest guitarist Russell Malone.

Hubbard, now 70, can’t play for as long as he used to because of ongoing problems he’s had with his lip. In recent years, he’s suffered from hip problems, a pinched nerve in his neck, a non-cancerous growth removed from his lung and congestive heart failure, according to a news release. But Hubbard recently has been back playing gigs with the New Jazz Composers Octet.

“People have been showing me a lot of love since I’ve been back. That makes you want to keep going,” he said.

Hubbard got his start playing trumpet in his hometown of Indianapolis with Wes Montgomery. In 1958, Hubbard moved to New York City, where he began working with artists like Sonny Rollins, Slide Hampton, J.J. Johnson and Quincy Jones. In 1961, Hubbard joined up with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and eventually began exploring more avant-garde styles of playing, contributing to Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz and John Coltrane’s Ascension. Other sessions Hubbard worked on during the early ’60s included Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch, Oliver Nelson’s Blues and the Abstract Truth, Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage and Empyrean Isles, Wayne Shorter’s Speak No Evil and Max Roach’s Drums Unlimited.

Originally Published