While cruising down Jazz Highway, I decided to take the exit marked 100 Greatest Jazz Trumpeters. There are many billboards touting so and so as being a member of the Elite 100 Jazz Trumpet Guild.
I decided to grab a bite to eat and pulled into the Harmonious Hamburger Hangout parking lot. The dinner rush had just ended and there were plenty of spaces available. Each one, all 100 of them, were marked with-you guessed it-the name of a member of the Guild. The empty slots's names were illuminated with bright green LED bulbs. As I pulled into the Freddie Hubbard space, the lights changed from green to red. Clever! When I got out of my car and locked the door, I heard a very pleasant female voice similar to the computers in sci-fi movies. "Welcome to the Harmonious Hamburger Hangout. For your listening pleasure, here is Freddie Hubbard's 'Red Clay'." Next, I heard music coming from the two speakers that hung on both sides of the space.
I remained there for a while flabbergasted and elated. "This is too cool!" When I finally gathered my senses and walked toward the main entrance, the music gently faded out. Curious, I walked back to my car. The same song gently faded up where it left off! "What?" When I moved to go inside, the music faded out again. "Wow!"
As I made my way into the restaurant, a bubbly Maitre'D greeted me."Good evening, sir. My name is Cheryl and welcome to the Harmonious Hamburger Hangout! Would you like a table or a booth?" Before I could respond, she could see the bewilderment lingering on my face. "This must be your first time here." How could she tell? "The audio in the parking lot gets the newbies every time! A booth for you?" "Sounds good", I said with a wry smile. Here's your menu. Your server Miles will be right with you." "But.....this is a tablet.....isn't it?" "We are both correct. It's a tablet and a menu. Enjoy!" she shot back with a cheshire cat smile.
I touched the screen and the menu sprang to life and an extensive one at that. Each of the 100 burgers was part of a combo special that included fries and a drink and was named after a Guild member. Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, Roy Eldridge, Freddie Hubbard, etc. Every one of the specials sounded really good but I had to choose one. Since I parked in his space, I chose Freddie Hubbard's. I was prepared to hear a Freddie Hubbard tune but was greeted by the raspy voice of the late Miles Davis. "Say, wouldn't you rather have the Miles Davis?" Startled, I looked up and my server, Miles, was at my booth. " Uh, no thanks. That was an amazing impersonation by the way." " Thank you! I am a drama major at the University with a minor in jazz history. How do you want your burger cooked and what will you have to drink?" "Medium well with a strawberry lemonade, please." "You got it. While you wait, here are some headphones for your tablet. Press the green icon and enjoy the music. I'll return later with your order." I removed the headphones from the sealed plastic bag, plugged them in the output jack and pressed the icon. What do you you know? A Freddie Hubbard playlist.
"While your meal is being prepared, please enjoy the stylings of Freddie Hubbard," announced that same parking lot voice.
"Sir, here's your order. Sir-." "Oh-thanks Miles. I was lost in the music. Freddie was a fantastic player!" "He certainly was, sir. His main influences were Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan. He began to distance himself from them to forge his own path and won Downbeat magazine's "New Star" award on trumpet in the late 1960's. Is there anything else I can get for you?" "No thanks Miles." "Very good. Enjoy your meal....and Mr. Hubbard."
A gentle tap on my right shoulder snapped me out of my trance.
"Sorry, sir. I didn't mean to startle you, but you haven't finished your meal and it's almost closing time. Can I get you your check and a trumpet bag for your meal?" "No-I mean yes! I know you were just trying to get my attention and yes to the check and trumpet bag. You must be a big jazz buff. I think I know the answer, but how did you get your name, Miles?" "To make a long story short, my mother was a huge Miles Davis fan and named me after him. I have always been partial to Freddie Hubbard, though....I'm sorry....I got carried away. It's just that you're the first customer that I've waited on that's taken time to ask me about jazz." "No need to apologize. It's one of my favorite pastimes and a great passion of mine. Tell me a little more about Freddie." "Really? Wow! Sure!"
"Hubbard achieved his greatest popular success in the 1970's with a series of albums for Creed Taylor and is record label, CTI Records, overshadowing label veterens saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, flautist Hubert Laws and guitarist George Benson. His early 1970's albums Red Clay, First Light-a Grammy Award winner in 1972-Straight LIfe and Sky Dive were well received and considered by many to be his best work. However, the albums he recorded later in that decade were attacked by critics as being too commercial." Cheryl tapped us both on the shoulder and pointed at the her watch. Miles nodded feverously and whispered to me, "I'd better get your check and bag for your food!" I ageed. I stopped the music and disconnected the headphones.
Miles briskly walked back to my booth with my check and trumpet bag. I stuffed my leftovers in the bag and laid a $20 bill on the table. "I'll get your change." "That won't be necessary. As a matter of fact, his $5 more-you've earned it, my friend." "What? Thank you, sir!" "Aaron. My name is Aaron. Enjoy your weekend." "I-I sure will, Aaron. You too!"
The story you just read may or may not be real. But one thing is certain-Freddie Hubbard was the real deal and one of the greatest trumpet players in jazz history.
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