Hubert Laws

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Hubert Laws
Hubert Laws.jpg
Background information
Born (1939-11-10) November 10, 1939 (age 76)
Origin Houston, Texas, United States
Genres Jazz, classical
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Flute
Years active 1964–present
Labels RKO/Unique, Sony, Music Masters Jazz, CTI, Columbia

Hubert Laws (born November 10, 1939)[1] is an American flutist and saxophonist with a career spanning over 40 years in jazz, classical, and other music genres. After Eric Dolphy and 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.[2]


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.[1] 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, he was a member of the early Jazz Crusaders while in Texas (1954–60), and 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 Juilliard, 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 & Simpson, Chet Baker, George Benson, and Moondog. 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. He can also be heard playing tenor saxophone on some records from the 1970s.

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 Vaughan, 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.[3] 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, includes "Red Hot & Cool" with Nancy Wilson, Performance in Brazil, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Appearance, The 1975 Downbeat Reader's Poll Awards, Performance in Japan, and Performance in Germany.

Awards and honors[edit]

In June 2010, Laws received a lifetime achievement award from the National Endowment for the Arts in the field of jazz.[4]

Laws is a recipient of the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters Award.[5]

Hubert Laws Grammy Awards History[6]
Year Category Title Genre Label Result
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


As leader[edit]

Year Title Label notes
1964 The Laws of Jazz Atlantic
1966 Flute By-Laws Atlantic
1968 Laws' Cause Atlantic
1969 Crying Song CTI
1970 Afro-Classic CTI
1971 The Rite of Spring CTI
1972 Wild Flower Atlantic
1972 Morning Star CTI
1973 Carnegie Hall CTI
1974 In the Beginning CTI
1975 The Chicago Theme CTI
1975 The San Francisco Concert CTI
1976 Romeo & Juliet Columbia
1978 Say It With Silence Columbia
1978 Land of Passion Columbia
1980 Family 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
2002 Baila Cinderella Scepterstein
2004 Moondance Savoy Jazz
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

As sideman[edit]

With Roy Ayers

With Chet Baker

  • She Was Good to Me (1972)
  • Studio Trieste (1982)

With George Benson

With Kenny Burrell

With Ron Carter

With Chick Corea

With Paul Desmond

With Charles Earland

With Gil Evans

With Astrud Gilberto

With Grant Green

With Johnny Hammond

With Eddie Henderson

With Freddie Hubbard

With Bobby Hutcherson

With Solomon Ilori

With Jackie and Roy

With Milt Jackson

With The Jazz Crusaders

With Quincy Jones

With Harold Mabern

With Junior Mance

With Herbie Mann

With Arif Mardin

With Gary McFarland

  • America the Beautiful, An Account of its Disappearance (1968)
  • Today (1969)

With James Moody

With Airto Moreira

With Alphonse Mouzon

  • Morning Sun (1981)

With Milton Nascimento

With Jaco Pastorius

  • Jaco Pastorius (Epic, 1976)

With Houston Person

With Dave Pike

With Mongo Santamaría

  • Mongomania (Colombia, 1967)

With Lalo Schifrin

With Don Sebesky

With Melvin Sparks

With Leon Spencer

With Gábor Szabó

With Bobby Timmons

With Stanley Turrentine

With McCoy Tyner

With Walter Wanderley

With Randy Weston


  1. ^ a b "Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997 [database on-line]". United States: The Generations Network. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  2. ^ All About Jazz: Hubert Laws
  3. ^ All Music article
  4. ^ NEA Will Honor 18 Artists
  5. ^ National Endowment for the Arts (June 24, 2010). "National Endowment for the Arts Announces the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters". Washington: National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved July 19, 2010. 
  6. ^ Grammy Awards Database for Hubert Laws

External links[edit]