Hubert Laws (born November 10, 1939) is an American flutist with a 30-year career in jazz, classical, and other music genres. Alongside Herbie Mann, Laws is probably the most recognized and respected jazz flutist. Laws is one of the few classical artists who has also mastered jazz, pop, and rhythm-and-blues genres, moving effortlessly from one repertory to another.
Hubert Laws, Jr. was born November 10, 1939, in the Studewood section of Houston, Texas, the second of eight children to Hubert Laws, Sr. and Miola Luverta Donahue. Many of his siblings also entered the music industry, including saxophonist Ronnie and vocalists Eloise, Debra and Johnnie Laws. He began playing flute in high school after volunteering to substitute for the school orchestra's regular flutist. He became adept at jazz improvisation by playing in the Houston-area jazz group the Swingsters, which eventually evolved into the Modern Jazz Sextet, the Night Hawks, and The Crusaders. At age 15, was a member of the early Jazz Crusaders while in Texas (1954–1960), and he also played classical music during those years.
Winning a scholarship to New York's Juilliard School of Music in 1960, he studied music both in the classroom and with master flutist Julius Baker, and played with both the New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (member) and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, 1969-72. In this period his renditions of classical compositions by Gabriel Fauré, Stravinsky, Debussy, and Bach on the 1971 CTI recording Rite of Spring—with a string section and such jazz stalwarts as Airto Moreira, Jack DeJohnette, Bob James, and Ron Carter—earned him an audience of classical music aficionados. He would return to this genre in 1976 with a recording of Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet.
While at Juillard, Laws played flute during the evenings with several acts, including Mongo Santamaría, 1963–67 and in 1964 began recording as a bandleader for the Atlantic label, and he released the albums The Laws of Jazz, Flute By-Laws, and Laws Cause. He guested on albums by Ashford and Simpson, Chet Baker, and George Benson. He also recorded with younger brother Ronnie Laws album The Laws in the early 1970s. He also played flute on Gil Scott-Heron's 1971 album Pieces of a Man, which featured the jazz poem "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." During the 1970s he was a member of the New York Jazz Quartet.
In the 1990s Laws resumed his career, playing on the 1991 Spirituals in Concert recording by opera singers Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman. His albums on the Music Masters label—My Time Will Come in 1990 and, more particularly, Storm Then Calm in 1994—are regarded by critics as a return to the form he exhibited on his early 1970s albums. He also recorded a tribute album to jazz pianist and pop-music vocalist Nat King Cole, Hubert Laws Remembers the Unforgettable Nat King Cole, which received critical accolades. Among the many artists he has played and recorded with are Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Nancy Wilson, Quincy Jones, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Lena Horne, Leonard Bernstein, James Moody, Jaco Pastorius, Sérgio Mendes, Bob James, Carly Simon, George Benson, Clark Terry, Stevie Wonder, J. J. Johnson, and The Rascals. In 1998, Laws recorded with Morcheeba for the Red Hot Organization's compilation album Red Hot + Rhapsody, a tribute to George Gershwin, which raised money for various charities devoted to increasing AIDS awareness and fighting the disease.
The 2006 video Hubert Laws Live 30-year Video Retrospective, available only at hubertlaws.com, includes "Red Hot & Cool" with Nancy Wilson, Performance in Brazil, Johnny Carson Show Appearance, The 1975 Downbeat Reader's Poll Awards, Performance in Japan, and Performance in Germany.
|Hubert Laws Grammy Awards History|
|1979||Best Rhythm & Blues Instrumental Performance||Land of Passion||Jazz||Columbia||Nominee|
|1974||Best Jazz Performance - Soloist||In the Beginning||Jazz||CTI||Nominee|
|1973||Best Jazz Performance - Soloist||Morning Star||Jazz||CTI||Nominee|
|1964||The Laws of Jazz||Atlantic|
|1971||The Rite of Spring||CTI|
|1974||In the Beginning||CTI|
|1975||The San Francisco Concert||CTI|
|1976||Romeo & Juliet||CTI|
|1978||Say It With Silence||Columbia|
|1978||Land of Passion||Columbia|
|1980||Hubert Laws and Earl Klugh: How to Beat the High Cost of Living||Columbia|
|1983||Make It Last||Columbia|
|1990||My Time Will Come||Music Masters Jazz|
|1994||Storm Then the Calm||Music Masters Jazz|
|1998||Hubert Laws Remembers the Unforgettable Nat "King" Cole||RKO/Unique|
|2005||Hubert Laws Plays Bach for Barone & Baker||Denon Records|
|2006||Hubert Laws Live - 30-year Video Retrospective||Spirit Productions|
|2009||Flute Adaptations of Rachmaninov & Barber||Spirit Productions|
With Gary McFarland
With Walter Wanderley
With Quincy Jones
With George Benson
With Randy Weston
With Freddie Hubbard
With Ron Carter
With Grant Green
With McCoy Tyner
With Chet Baker
With Chick Corea
With Alphonse Mouzon
With Stanley Turrentine