From concerts, recordings and military service in Seoul, Korea to jazz festivals as a Jazz Ambassador; conducting orchestras across the United States as a musical director to recording and producing records as a pianist and leader of his own group; Fred Hughes has had a long and varied musical journey.
Fred began studying keyboards and low brass at the age of 8 and by age 12 was a member of Local 294 of the American Federation of Musicians in his hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He performed alongside his father in the New Holland and Bainbridge Bands on tuba and in his dad’s jazz group on organ. Professional performances continued with his own organ trio until graduating from high school.
In 1979, Fred enlisted in the United States Army and upon advancing out of the Armed Forces School of Music, was assigned as a tuba player in the First Army Band at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. His keyboard prowess soon had him playing in the duty combo, show band and big band with the First Army Band as well as an organ trio in his off-duty time in the Baltimore/Washington area. He also performed with the UMBC Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Ron Diehl, playing with such guest artists as Al Cohn and Ashley Alexander.
1981 to 1985 was a period of tremendous opportunity for Fred, not only as a member of the Eighth Army Band in Seoul, Korea, but numerous performance opportunities in his free time. As a soldier- musician, he was rising quickly up the ranks, reaching the rank of staff sergeant. His responsibilities included leader of the duty combo, show band, and big band for the Eighth Army Band as well as operations noncommissioned officer; overseeing the booking of the organization.