Freddie Hubbard, Famous Jazz Musician from Indianapolis

Freddie Hubbard is one of the many now-famous people from Indianapolis who rose to stardom playing American jazz during the  middle 1900s. He was born in Indianapolis in 1938 and often plied his trade at many of the great jazz clubs of the epoch along Indiana Avenue, playing his golden trumpet with jazz greats such as Wes Montgomery, Cannonball Adderley, Larry Ridley and too many others to mention.

Naptown” was one of the epicenters of American jazz during its heyday, considered by some to be the brightest jazz spot not only in Indiana, but across the United States. All along the “Street of Dreams,” as Indiana Avenue was called, one could find nightclubs with the scintillating live jazz that lit up the Indianapolis nightlife of the period. Today, the neighborhood is recognized as a major cultural district of Indianapolis, one of six.

Hubbard played the trumpet and mellophone in the school band at his high school, Arsenal Tech, an important and historical school in Indianapolis. He continued his musical path, never deviating, studying at the Arthur Jordan Conservatory of Music, and playing professionally with a group called the Jazz Contemporaries when he was still just a teenager.

Hear a classic Freddie Hubbard solo in this video from 1962. Freddie was just 24 years old at the time.


It was during this period that Hubbard worked his first recording session, playing on an album called “The Montgomery Brothers and Five Others,” by a group led by bassist Wes Montgomery, another Hoosier native son. He went on to record with all the jazz greats, including Wes Montgomery, Quincy Jones, Sonny Rollins, Eric Dolphy, Slide Hampton, Philly Joe Jones, McCoy Tyner, Tina Brooks, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock, Art Blakeley and John Coltrane. His name is on dozens of classic jazz albums.

As a leader, Freddie Hubbard recorded more than fifty albums from the early 1960s through 2008, including Open Sesame, But Beautiful, All or Nothing at All, Gypsy Blue, Hub’s Nub, One Mint Julep, Gypsy Blue, Super Blue, Red Clay, Take It to the Ozone, To Her Ladyship, The Surest Things Can Change, The Gospel Truth and Theme for Kareem.

Video of Freddie Hubbard in 1975, playing “Straight Life,” a piece of fusion jazz bordering, at times, on the avant-garde.


Hubbard’s powerful technique made him a huge influence not only in jazz, but also in the bebop, hard bop and post bop genres. His style as a jazz musician has been described as straddling the fence between so-called tonal jazz and the all-out atonal improvs of free jazz.

Freddie Hubbard died in California in 2008, at the age of 70, after a long and fruitful career as a musician, bandleader and composer. His is an important legacy for Indianapolis music, Indianapolis culture and the development and history of American jazz.

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