Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bobby Hutcherson on Blue Note pt. 2

Bobby Hutcherson recorded three albums as leader with Herbie Hancock on piano: Components (1965), Happenings (66), and Oblique (67).  As Hutcherson's Dialogue was, I think, deeply colored by the presence of Andrew Hill, so Hancock's presence colors the 66 and 67.  This is so in spite of the fact that Hutcherson composed all but one of the numbers on Happenings (Hancock's 'Maiden Voyage') and three of the six numbers of on Oblique.  The latter also includes a single Hancock composition.  I think that this is a strength of Hutcherson's leadership rather than a weakness and is quite intentional.  Hutcherson's composition 'Subtle Neptune' certainly invokes the oceanic theme that marked Hancock's great Blue Note recordings.  Hutcherson chose to do something very clever: record albums that fit rather neatly with the latter.  
  1. Components.  Freddie Hubbard (tp); James Spaulding (as, fl); Bobby Hutcherson (vib, mar); Herbie Hancock (p, org); Ron Carter (b); Joe Chambers (d).  Four of the cuts are Hutcherson composition, and they are all lyrical, accessible, and delicious.  'Tranquility' is pensive and haunting.  'Little B's Poem' is a classic.  The rest of the compositions are by Chambers, and lean a little more toward the avant garde.  
  2. Happenings.  Bobby Hutcherson (vib, mar, d); Herbie Hancock (p); Bob Cranshaw (b); Joe Chambers (d, mar),  Great album art!  All the compositions are good.  I especially like 'Head Start' with Hutcherson's superb solos going on just inches above Hancock's piano. This is very energetic and compelling hard bop.
  3. Oblique.  Bobby Hutcherson (vib, d); Herbie Hancock (p); Albert Stinson (b); Joe Chambers (d, gong, timp).  What Hutcherson does with Hancock's 'Theme from "Blow Up"' is just marvelous, and you don't get better vibes than are on display in the title cut.  
  4. Stick Up! (66) Joe Henderson (ts); Bobby Hutcherson (vib); McCoy Tyner (p); Herbie Lewis (b); Billy Higgins (d).  This is a nice contrast with the above recordings.  It doesn't sound like a Hancock or a Henderson album, though Joe does not go unnoticed.  Hutcherson's poetry is a conspicuous feature of all these albums, but the best expression of it is in the aptly titled 'Verse'.  Again, Hutcherson composes his solo just above the exquisite Tyner on piano and Lewis on base, followed Henderson doing the same.  I can't imagine listening to this and not being happy.  
I may do another post on Hutcherson, or maybe not.   If you have the four recordings described in these last two posts, you have a fine record of mid-sixties jazz in all of its glory. 

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