An LJC reader challenged me on why I hadn’t posted any titles by Bobby Hutcherson? Once again, I found myself short of an answer.
To put that right, we kick off with what I consider Hutcherson’s sine qua non Blue Note Dialogue, of which Allmusic say:
“Dialogue remains Hutcherson’s most adventurous, “outside” album. While there are more extensive showcases for (Hutcherson’s) playing, this high-calibre session stands as arguably his greatest musical achievement”
A quirky Andrew Hill latin composition, a mambo in 8/8 time. That’s adventurous. Nice.
Selection 2: Idle While (Joe Chambers)
Hubbard’s trumpet will melt your heart, believe it.
Freddie Hubbard (trumpet) Sam Rivers (tenor,soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, flute) Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone, marimba) Andrew Hill (piano) Richard Davis (bass) Joe Chambers (drums) Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, April 3, 1965
Though they have their fans, two ’50s/’60s artists in my view were over-recorded and have not worn well: Jimmy Smith and MJQ, judging by their prolific output in the record store bargain bins. MJQ defined cool chamber jazz, and Milt Jackson’s vibraphone was an essential component of that sound. It is hard to hear the vibraphone and not think “MJQ”, but Hutcherson manages to pull off something different.
The saxophone and trumpet are an extension of breath, properly, a voice: Miles, Coltrane, Rollins, Mobley, McLean, the range of voices is infinitely variable. The vibraphone offers more limited musical contribution, part percussive part harmonic, a more restricted range of expression. It had among its leading lights Lionel Hampton, Milt Jackson, Red Norvo, Bobby Hutcherson, Gary Burton, Cal Tjader and Roy Ayers, but Bobby Hutcherson is the only one that appears significantly in my collection.
Vibes are mellow and cool, which is why Hutcherson’s masterstroke was putting a first division front line together, ensuring this was not just a “vibraphone album”. Rather, Hutcherson is often low key, adding colourings while his other artists take the lead. Andrew Hill and Sam Rivers, sprinkling salt and pepper on what could be overexposure of the ringing tones of the vibraphone.
Hutcherson was the in-demand vibes player of his day, and enjoyed a long run though the late ’60s and the Blue Note move to the West Coast. He teamed up with my favourite West Coast tenor, Harold Land, and left a good number of excellent albums in the mid to trailing end of the ’60s including Happenings, Components, Cirrus, Head On, to name but a few. You will be hearing more of him, no more excuses.
Vinyl: BST 84198 Liberty UA early ’70s pressing, VG stamp.
I’m not proud, I own up, it’s an Liberty UA copy, bought at a time when I was just starting out. It still sounds damn fine to me, and may be one day will be complemented with an original mono, but I am very happy listening to the exquisite Van Gelder recording of this session. The sextet line up is so good, this is one record I figure benefits from RVG’s later more refined approach to stereo.
The Black and Blue Liberty/ UA pressings are good vintage pressings, and nothing to be ashamed of. The cover, in contrast, exhibits a good specimen of ring-wear, and why you should keep records outside the jacket in their own sleeve within a 400gm poly liner. Collector’s Corner
This Hutcherson title was sourced from a west London record store five years ago. I had all but forgotten about it, neglected on the shelf. It’s a fact of life that listening over time changes your musical perception. Listening to Andrew Hill, Freddie Hubbard and Sam Rivers in recent years has sharpened my appreciation of their contributions, so I revisited Dialogue with new ears. To be honest I don’t think I had listened to enough to appreciate it first time around. The benefit of a reader’s challenge (hat tip Martin) was a reminder of how good a Blue Note session Dialogue was. Thanks for that.
It is also a pleasant break from researching record labels, which I will pick up on after a break. It can be quite wearying working your way through small blurred pictures of records taken in tilted perspective, missing label-shots, and inadequately described. God bless those sellers who do a good job, and those obsessives who upload good stuff including labels to Discogs, for all its limitations, a great resource. Guide to Atlantic Stereo is coming on a pace.
LJC POLLS: likes and dislikes in jazz instruments
Lets ignore soprano and baritone sax, for another day.
Poll 1: How do you feel about the Vibraphone/Vibraharp as a jazz instrument?
Poll 2: How do you feel about the following instruments in Modern Jazz?
Comments: any other “pet hates”? Speak up!