Wednesday, December 31, 2008

FREDDIE HUBBARD & ROBERT GRAHAM R.I.P.

Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard was one of those jazz musicians who was so competent and accomplished, you almost took him for granted. But his passing is a true loss for a generation of jazz musicians and music lovers.

Fortunately, his contributions to the art won't be missed because they're there in his many recordings as leader or sideman who crossed several arbitrary musical borders to have an impact beyond the more esoteric avant-jazz world of the '60s, which is where I first heard him.

I didn't always dig the "fusion" sound he learned working with Herbie Hancock, but it brought him a much wider and I'm sure more lucrative success, and I'm happy he had that. But if you want to hear him at his early best, check out his READY FOR FREDDIE LP or listen to his contributions on Eric Dolphy's OUT TO LUNCH! or Ornette Coleman's FREE JAZZ or Coltrane's ASCENSION.

Robert Graham was another cat whose art could be taken for granted in some ways. Known by too many—unfortunately in our celebrity culture—as Angelica Huston's husband, he gained recognition also for his sculpted nude statues for the L. A. Olympics in '84 which put him on the popular culture map, as did his more recent sculptures for the FDR memorial in DC.

Working mostly in the tradition of realistic representation, he didn't get the kind of insider art-world attention those riding the crest of the latest art trend wave do, but as a sculptor working in that tradition he was unmatched (and because of his public commissions, ala FDR's memorial, his fame was greater in many ways than the art-world approved bigees).

Being a Mexican-American who worked in that tradition might have also contributed to his often being overlooked by the avant-art world critics and promoters, because there was little that was polemical or even provocative in his work in the post-modern identity way. Though the commissions he chose obviously expressed the sympathies and perspectives of an outsider in the wider culture (i.e. his memorials to Duke Ellington in Central Park, Charlie Parker in Kansas City, Joe Louis in Detroit, etc., some of which are more abstract or symbolic).

But the best way to sum up Graham's work is to quote a fellow artist, Paul Harryn, from an email telling me of Graham's passing: "...cool guy - another one of those under rated venice artists, like ed moses - don't know if you ever saw his studio or his nude female figures - they were beautiful and i'm not crazy about contemporary figurative sculpture - but his, i enjoyed having a relationship with ... he died last saturday ... God bless him ..."

Yes indeed, God bless them both, and our condolences to their families and friends.

2 comments:

harryn said...

after thinking about it - dying sounds unright - he moved beyond the eternal beach ...

The Kid said...

lally, when did you become the man in the village who writes the beautiful eulogies?....i love [you] when you use your gifts to mark the passage of these artists, poets, and musicians; a seemingly endless multitude that gave you joy, insight or just pause, and enriched your life.

may we all be so lucky to be remembered with such love and precision.

happy new year, teach!

cya soon