Jazz Masters of Houston: Hubert Laws

Above: Hubert Laws exhibiting his incredible facility at classical music with a jazz touch

While Houston is loaded with talented musicians, flautist Hubert Laws is probably the only one who performs annually at Carnegie Hall. A child prodigy born into a family of musicians in the Studewood area, Laws has gone on to be considered, along with Herbie Mann, the modern master of the instrument.

Courtesy of the Defender
The young Crusaders in Los Angeles circa 1959.
After proving his knack for flute at 13 when he filled the flute chair in the high school orchestra, Laws was already well on his way in his performing career when, in 1960 at age 20, he came to a crucial fork in his road. Laws' decision: Whether to continue playing jazz with the up-and-coming -- and eventually historic -- Jazz Crusaders or to attend Juilliard.

Laws was already an accomplished player and working in Los Angeles with the Jazz Crusaders, having been in all of the proto-Crusaders high school bands like the Swingsters and Modern Jazz Sextet, when the Julliard scholarship opportunity arose.

Once in New York, he not only studied with renowned flautist Julius Baker, Laws began to sub for the New York Metropolitan Opera orchestra. Broadening himself beyond classical music, Laws worked at night with jazz ensembles such as Mongo Santamaria and John Lewis.

New York offered an artist of Laws' talent an amazing array of possibilities, from classical to jazz, and he made the most of them, appearing with a host of national symphonies (Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, and Los Angeles) as well as performing as a soloist for the New York Philharmonic under the direction of renowned conductor Zubin Mehta.

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MadMac topcommenter

Excellent article, Mr. Smith. Can't wait for more.

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