David “Fathead” Newman, one of the great R & B and jazz saxmen, has passed away January 20, 2009, and Freddie Hubbard, jazz trumpet player extraordinaire, December 29, 2008. Newman is most well-known for being part of Ray Charles excellent R & B band of the 1950s, from 1954-66. Newman played on almost all of Ray Charles important hits of the 1950s and 1960s, including the great “I Got a Woman.”

Newman is also one of the great hard-bop jazz saxmen. He released no less than 38 of his own albums, and also worked as a sideman with dozens of the industry’s greats. One of his greatest albums was STILL HARD TIMES from 1982, a title for our times if ever there was one. But truly, any Newman CD/LP is a good one. He never cut a bad one, truth be told.

Freddie Hubbard trained with the greats, including Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, and cut a lot of sides with Joe Henderson and Kenny Barron. Because of the untimely death of Lee Morgan, the heir apparent to Miles, Hubbard was more or less thrust into the role of heir apparent to Miles, a role Hubbard was never quite comfortable with, though Hubbard was a fine and excellent trumpet player.

There are a lot of stories about Freddie’s personal life. He liked to live large, and his career was not managed well, nor did he keep his accounts straight with creditors or bill collectors.

But Freddie Hubbard, whatever his personal faults, was a living jazz legend, and lest we forget, he played with all of the greats, and left behind a vast recorded jazz legacy that stretches over more than fifty years, both as sideman and band leader. Moreover, his recorded legacy, as the memory of his actual life fades, will seem greater and more imposing, as time passes.

David Fathead Newman and Freddie Hubbard collectively have left us with nearly a hundred recordings of some of the most excellent hard bop jazz in existence, recording alongside the best sidemen in the business.

Newman in addition has left behind all his recordings with the Ray Charles band from the prime of that group, and Hubbard played as sideman on many albums to some of the greatest in the business as well.

These recordings are a lasting legacy to a couple of the great jazz musicians of an era.

–art kyriazis philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

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