John Stubblefield was one of the most versatile musicians in jazz, an invaluable artist who expanded on the music’s potential from within the tradition. Stubblefield’s tenor and soprano saxophones told the story of four decades of diverse musical experience, from local R&B acts like Jackie Wilson and Solomon Burke (64) through Chicago’s progressive Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (67- 70) to freelancing in New York with the renowned Tito Puente (72-74) and Kenny Barron (86) and everyone in between.
After moving to New York in 1971, he played with the Collective Black Artists big band and Mary Lou Williams. He was also in groups led by Charles Mingus, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, and Tito Puente. In 1972 he played a free jazz concert at Town Hall with Anthony Braxton and was featured with him on an album of the same name. In 1973 John recorded with Abdullah Ibrahim and worked with Miles Davis – and later recorded with him in 75.
Stubblefield’s adaptability and ease in any setting brought him calls from the World Saxophone Quartet (86-88), Reggie Workman (89-93), McCoy Tyner (84 Clark), Freddie Hubbard (85), and George Russell (85). As a leader of his own quartet since the early 1980s, Stubblefield recorded for Enja and Soul Note.