On Sunday, we get to celebrate Valentine’s Day and listen to multiple versions of “My Funny Valentine” by Rodgers and Hart. Among the most striking of those versions is from trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker and that brings us to a favorite topic of mine – the number of trumpeters (and cornetists) connected to Denver and Colorado.

We are reminded of that connection by a streaming event on February 20, that’s a tribute to the great trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and sponsored by the Gift of Jazz. Of course Hubbard belongs geographically to Indianapolis, but this tribute features trumpeter Hugh Ragin and the Messengers of Peace who reside here. Ragin (who has a master’s degree from Colorado State Uiversity) can do it all from classical music, to post-bop, to the sounds of the avant-garde. In fact, for decades, he has been among the literal handful of trumpeters who have been leaders when it comes to that instrument in the on-the-edge side of the music.

Ragin has had long-time musical ties to saxophonists David Murray and Roscoe Mitchell. One of my favorite items on the Murray front is a The New York Times story about the saxophonist’s big band that played regularly in New York City. The story noted the band, that included Ragin, offered some of the best musicians in New York when Ragin lived in Colorado.

Saxophonist Mitchell, with whom Ragin frequently worked, is a founding member of the famed Art Ensemble of Chicago and when Mitchell more recently reunited a new version of the Art Ensemble Ragin found himself in the trumpet chair. (You can hear Ragin on the 2017 ECM recording by Roscoe Mitchell Bells for the South and the 2019 disc We Are on the Edge with an expanded version of the new Art Ensemble.) Ragin’s Messengers are: Olivia Rebolledo on piano; Vince Wiggins on flute; Larry Henly on bass; and Tony Black on drums.

The Hubbard Tribute is on Facebook and YouTube on Saturday, February 20 at 7 pm and if you wonder about the great trumpeter’s avant-garde ties, just remember that along with all his post-bop connections with players such as Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers, Sonny Rollins and the Montgomery Brothers, Hubbard also worked with Eric Dolphy and appeared on Ornette Coleman’s 1961 Free Jazz, a Collective Improvisation by Coleman’s Double Quartet with drummers Billy Higgins and Ed Blackwell; bassists Charlie Haden and Scott LaFaro; trumpeters Don Cherry and Freddie Hubbard; and saxophonists Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman.

This is where I get to offer a taste of the current trumpet/cornet players from here who have created great interest nation wide in addition to Ragin. These include: Ron Miles; Greg Gisbert; Kirk Knuffke; Nate Wooley; Scott Wendholt, along with Pete Olsted; Bob Montgomery; and newer players such as Gabriel Mervine.

Jazz Notes 2-11-2021
Norman Provizer

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