on freddie’s birthday

Freddie Hubbard, of course, is my hero. He is one of my greatest influences.

His time, I believe, was a bit simpler. Step 1: find a band. Step 2: meet the band. Step 3: ingratiate yourself to the band. Step 4: get a chance to play with the band. Step 5: play with the band full-time. Step 6: leave the band and start a solo career. Simple enough - if you can hang.  You’d have food, a roof over your head and a record deal. What more could a person possibly want, I asked with a hint of sarcasm?

Now, the most prolific among us still get record deals, but they are fewer and far between. No longer do we see discoveries in music; instead, you have to be well known already, promoting yourself to the point where your already cultivated image can be sold. I find this counterproductive to the socioeconomic climate for artists, but that’s not my call. 

I harken back to those YouTube clips of Freddie at the Vanguard. He was long established as one of the greatest trumpeters of all time, but it was his musicianship that paved the way for everything afterwards. You wanted Freddie in your club; you needed Freddie in your club. He was so electric that the crowd would go wild after every single tune. It was a no-brainer. He created hype without selling it; he played it into existence. 

Things are harder, now. Press kits (are those still a thing?) Managers. Talent buyers. Pay for your own record. Make your own way so that the industry can invest a little and make a lot of money. Websites (thank God for Squarespace. I got this thing done in a half hour). Spotify. You know what it is. 

If anything keeps me going, it’s the knowledge that if your game is as tight as anyone out there, you will probably go where you want. You will be heard. You will be noticed. You will stand out. I’m no Freddie, but I think I can contribute something different to the scene. I believe I can stand out. That’s up to you. We shall see. 

Happy birthday to Mr. Freddie Hubbard. You live on through us every day.