Bobby Hutcherson: Happenings (1966) Liberty/ Blue Note


Selection: Maiden Voyage (Hancock)


Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone, marimba, drums) Herbie Hancock (piano) Bob Cranshaw (bass) Joe Chambers (drums, vibraphone) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, February 8, 1966


Hutcherson claims not to have heard the original Hancock Maiden Voyage before making his recording. It’s a tough call but personally I prefer the Hutcherson version  to the original Hancock one. The counterpoint of Hancock’s percussive piano paired against Hutcherson’s percussive mallets adds a rhythmic tension not found in the more melodramatic original. Herbie appears on both so you are being treated effectively to an alternate take, with Hancock shrewdly pocketing  double the song-writing royalties.

The modal structures allows the quartet a great deal of space to explore the  ethereal sonic textures of the vibraphone, and the absence of brass is in this case a positive advantage, avoiding the formulaic  heads, solo1, solo2, solo 3, reprise heads for something less of a route march through each song. Hancock is especially adept at finding the right notes to play against the vibes, which I guess is a linear keyboard of sorts.

LJCsaysLJC says: In my opinion (what else?), BN 4198 Dialogue remains Hutcherson’s Blue Note of choice, where the vibraphone is integrated within a more busy quintet format. For the same reason, BN 4213 Components, with its sextet format, has more complex layering rather than here, where Hutcherson is inevitably the prominent lead soloist within a quartet, without a horn. It goes back to the question asked before, how you feel about vibraphone. This one gives you a large helping of it, and it is definitely a cool sound well suited to an upscale uptown apartment with the right sort of retro furniture, evening low lighting, and a good single malt. I can go with that.

Vinyl: BN 4231 Liberty/ Blue Note, van Gelder stamp, no ear.

Happenings was released on the cusp of transition to Liberty, surrounded by a raft of titles allocated their Blue Note catalogue number but not released for up to a further decade.

BLP 4223 Jackie McLean – Jacknife
BLP 4233 Andrew Hill – One For One
BLP 4234 Stanley Turrentine
BLP 4236 Jackie McLean – High Frequency
BLP 4241 Hank Mobley – A Slice Of The Top

Liberty unable to pick up the momentum of Blue Note, most awaited United Artists first release by Michael Cuscuna in the mid ’70s. However in the mid ’60s  Hutcherson’s stock was high, vibist of choice on the new centre of musical gravity, the West Coast, and he enjoyed a schedule of new releases through Liberty and later United Artists well into the ’70s.

4231-NY-labelIrritatingly,  my copy sports Division of Liberty labels, whilst some copies of 4231 are found on NY labels.

Since the record was not released until 1967, one is no more valid than the other, but try telling that to collectors . “Original NY label! Van Gelder!”

Unusually for  Liberty it is a mono release, against the gathering head of steam behind stereo.

That cover:  something to talk about.


Blow Up (1966)

The cover design by Reid Miles is iconic. No more girly ’50s cheesecake – it’s ’60s attitude and fashion, in lipstick pink. Created the same year as Michelangelo Antonioni’s masterpiece Blow Up ( film music score, um, coincidentally, by one Herbie Hancock) a murder mystery set in ’60s London and the swinging but ultimately shallow world of mod fashion, its anti-hero a fashion photographer, and a cast of aspiring fashion models. Holy 1960s!  Includes scenes with my teen music heroes, The Yardbirds, with Jeff Beck. (Shouldn’t that be Eric Clapton?)  Note to myself, I need to see this film again!

Breaking with Blue Note tradition, Reid Miles elects not to feature the album’s musicians, but by deploying the image of a mod fashion model posing to camera, the Happenings cover artfully encapsulates its time, and  “what’s happening”. Brilliant.


A bonus,  Happenings offers intelligent liner notes written by Leonard Feather, in contrast to the purple new age prose of Hancock’s original Maiden Voyage.


Collector’s Corner

Toughly fought over on Ebay a few years ago. Then I knew nothing about Liberty NY and Division of Liberty, and the religious divide between mono and stereo, I just thought it was a Blue Note (wrongly) and I wanted it. I know now, but how many times is another innocent present in auctions today?

LJC Bonus: Jazz Goes Ivy League –  University Challenge  Round 2

If you read this far, faithfull readers, you are to be rewarded with another bonus – second round –  identify the samples, gain a  Masters in Jazz.


Professor Jazz

Professor Jazz

On to this post’s Name That Tune in One, the samples get a little more difficult, and to add some spice  the number of samples just doubled to ten. Remember, I want the Lead Artist, The Album Title, and the Song Title.The Prize? The Ivy League College of Jazz (London Campus) prom queen has promised the first poster with the correct answers a special candle-lit dinner for two. But she warns, just starter and a main. Don’t expect dessert on a first date.

Oh, and you’re paying. What else did you expect?

Sample 1

Sample 2

Sample 3

Sample 4

Sample 5

Sample 6

Sample 7

Sample 8

Sample 9

Sample 10

Prove yourself a Grand Master of Jazz, if you can.

18 thoughts on “Bobby Hutcherson: Happenings (1966) Liberty/ Blue Note

  1. On the “Let’s Put A Model on the Cover, We’ll Move More Product” series of BN covers, has anyone done an analysis of that? Off the top of my head, it was very sparse to start: I can think of Ruth Lion on 4044 being the first in that regard, then 4108 The Natural Soul and 4195 Oh Baby (4125 still had Lou on the cover, and 4190 had Freddie, I’m probably missing some others…). But it does seem around the Liberty switchover, you got a lot more ladies and lot less vinyl (mass) for your jazz LP dollar.

    • Yup, errors: 4192 is Oh Baby (not 4195) and 4168 is Brown Sugar. And Horace sat with Japanese ladies on 4110, and Wayne joined his wife on 4194…pish, I should wait for the coffee to kick in before I post.

    • By 2014 standardsI agree the model’s “look” is a bit drag-queen-lite, but by 1960’s standards, with fifty years of changing fashion and gender-bending still to come, I think we cut Reid some slack here.

  2. Hmmm… Now you have a mono pressing with Liberty labels and I have a stereo pressing with BN New York USA labels… For those interested, you can check out the photos of my stereo copy HERE.

    My pressing doesn’t have the ear either. It’s exactly as described in Fred Cohen’s book if you read his stereo section, but one thing is for damn sure: the cover, front and back, of your copy looks so, so much better. Can’t stand it 😉

  3. I have never heard this LP and hence never heard the terrific Hutcherson version of MAIDEN VOYAGE. I agree — without horns it is a lightly swinging, drifting, slightly more abstract piece, and utterly lovely. How could anyone not like the vibe of those, er..vibes?

  4. Good Sir, Wonderful posts recently. I have the opportunity to pick up an orig copy of Bobby Hutcherson’s Components. How much of the total value do you factor in to price for the condition of the cover. This ones probably G, but the disc is VG++ to M-. The seller is parting w his father’s goods and willing to take it off auction. Starting bid $50. I was trying to arrive at a decent offer.

    All best,

    Daniel Bloom

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Hi, I don’t usually help with valuations. I don’t know how badly you want it or how badly he wants to sell – that is the basis if price setting, however its an interesting dilemma. It is not like one of the “war-horse” 1500 series, where the cover is near-impossible to replace, and its condition may mean three quarters of the price. “Components” is not especially rare and a decent replacement cover should be easy to come by. Records from the later ’60s have generally worn quite well, so being in excellent condition is also not rare. I reckon $40 to $50 dollars would be fair to both of you, as described, probably at the lower end.

  5. Sadly, my computer (windows issue?) doesn’t see any audio files. From reading the comments last time I think I could have nailed it.

    Total Eclipse- though a bit later and not the best sounding lp- in an absolutely beautiful record. Check that one out.

  6. The ‘Name That Tune’ exercise resulted in a mediocre 6/10 for me- thanks for putting it out there to challenge us though.
    Blow Up is one of the finest (if indeed not the best) of the Swinging London films. A couple of years ago I had the great fortune to attend an open air screening of it in Maryon Park, the South London location that featured so strongly. It was great fun, though sadly the bric a brac shop where the photographer purchases a prop (sic) is long gone- it would be just the sort of place where in the current decade, I would expect to find a trunk stuffed with exquisite and rare modern jazz LPs. The white open topped Rolls Royce must also have been a very special vehicle since it enabled David Hemmings to get from Charlton to Mayfair (or wherever the studio was located, seemingly without any stress or effort, despite what would now be a long and frustrating journey).
    You might like to correct the deployment of instruments played by the ensemble, although it is novel to imagine Hutcherson and Chambers swapping drum and vibes duties. A recent cut and paste error at recently held Leonard Feather (not me favourite critic) responsible for the sleeve notes on a Polar Bear set before it was spotted.

    • Cuscuna and Ruppli’s Blue Note Label Discography explicitly confirms Hutcherson and Chambers swap over vibes and drums, on the track “The Omen”, (1697 tk. 26) which is a pretty far-out nod to free jazz. Methinks they were just larkin’ about, though I would never dare to say so. Not my intention to imply the instrumentation was swapped across the board on all tracks. It applies to just the one track, which was not my selection, so I can see it looks a little odd. Cuscuna/Ruppli is the source. Are they wrong? Not something I paid attention to at the time.

      There are a couple of youtubes of the Yardbirds scene in Blow Up. I read somewhere it was the Ricky-Tick Club, though that was in Windsor not London. Looks more than a bit like the inside of the Marquee in Wardour Street, which I used to frequent. around that time. Those were the days…

      • Great attention to detail from you LJC. This shines new light on what I referred to as the ‘crash bang percussive avant-gardism’ of ‘The Omen’ track back in April 2014. The drum interjections were the aspect that I took particularly against, so learning that Hutcherson was setting about the kit enables me to listen with new understanding. All credit to Hancock for holding things together while Hutcherson and Chambers visit each others instruments.

  7. maaaaaaaad!
    1) Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage, Maiden Voyage Blue Note 4195
    2) Art Pepper: Meets the Rhythm Section, Birks Works, Contemporary 3532
    3) Freddie Redd: Music for the Connection, Theme for Sister Salvation, Blue Note
    4) Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins, Decision, Blue Note 1542
    5) Lee Morgan: The Sidewinder, The Sidewinder, Blue Note
    6) Eric Dolphy, Out to Lunch, Hat and Beard, Blue Note 4163
    7) Ornette Coleman: The Shape of Jazz to Come, Lonely Woman, Atlantic 1317
    8) Art Blakey: and the Jazz Messengers, Moaning’ Blue Note 4003
    9) Bill Evans: Waltz for Debby, Waltz for Debby Riverside 399
    10) Grant Green: Idle Moments, Idle Moments, Blue Note

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