Bobby Hutcherson: The Kicker (1963) Blue Note TP

First release 1999 on The Evil Silver Disc, first time on vinyl, Tone Poet 2020. Where I have an original Blue Note, I generally would not add a TP duplicate to my shelf, but the provenance of this recording is remarkable, and irresistable. First time on vinyl, indeed. They know how to get to me.

Track Listing

  1. “Mirrors” (Joe Chambers) – 6:52
  2. “For Duke P.” (Hutcherson) – 7:54
  3. “The Kicker” (Henderson) – 6:07
  4. “Step Lightly” (Henderson) – 14:18
  5. “Bedouin” (Pearson) – 8:11

Selection: Mirrors (Chambers)

.  .  .

Tough choice, so many great sounding tracks.

Note this copy  has a repeating click for some minutes . Supplied sealed as from RTI.  Likely result of a piece of sharp grit as the LP  slides into the inner sleeve during packing. Should have sent it back.


Joe Henderson, tenor sax; Bobby Hutcherson, vibes; Duke Pearson, piano; Grant Green, guitar; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Al Harewood, drums; recorded Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December 29, 1963

Same personel, Grant Green’s iconic Blue Note Idle Moments  was recorded just six weeks earlier, on 4 &15 Nov 1963,


Idle Moments II? The tunes may  differ, but the same luminous quality of sound, recorded only six weeeks apart. Reviewers make a big deal of the recording being the same musicians, but they are missing the most important commonality: Van Gelder. Six weeks apart, Rudy would no doubt use the same microphone makes and models for each instrument, and the same positioning/ placement, why would he not? And mix it similarly, as the same studio configuration would generate simlar levels.

Mirrors: Henderson’s deep breathy tenor, caressing the notes as he makes his solo entrance, from one speaker, has you jumping out of your skin simulaneously sending shivers down where your spine previously was, moments ago.  The similarity demonstrates how critically the engineer shapes the sound.

The CD first edition of The Kicker was not the only Cuscuna-produced Blue Note in 1999, Joe Chambers got to lead his own  session as leader, in 1998, for a Blue Note CD  titled Mirrors.  Needs vinyl, chaps.

The title track The Kicker, a  jaunty upbeat romp with a trolley-car klaxon “hook”, is a Henderson tune that has more lives than a cat. It appears also on Horace Silver’s  Song for My Father, and Henderson’s own album same title The Kicker for Milestone (neither link includes a rip of that actual tune)

Strongest tracks are Mirrors, The Kicker, and Step Lightly, though they all have merit. If there is one weak spot for me it is Bedouin.  Duke Pearson’s haunting version on Wahoo! is the definitive reading to my mind. It is Pearson’s composition, and it is him here playing it, he’s entitled to play it how he likes. If you are used to the slower pace on Wahoo!, the presentation here sounds like you have accidentally set your turntable speed to 45rpm, or they were rushing to get the session over with. I must go check my copy of Grant Green’s Matador for another reading of “Bedouin”.

Despite being Bobby’s debut Blue Note recording as leader, the session is generously more ensemble-spirited, walk-in guest Grant Green on a couple of tracks, Henderson’s presence ensures the album is more rounded, not overwhelmed by vibraphone, with lots of solo space for everyone. Terrific session, terrific recording, some of that Idle Moments magic in the air.

Vinyl: Blue Note Tone Poet BST 21437

This Hutcherson’s “debut” as leader recording was shelved. Instead Blue Note show-cased Hutcherson’s prodogious talent with the album Dialogue (4198), Freddie Hubbard, Andrew Hill and Sam Rivers, released 18 months later in August 1965. That album included another momentous “Stopped Time™ ” track “Idle While”.

Kevin Gray’s AAA mastering breathes new life into the recording, sonically superb, with a rich theatrical soundstage. I consider this an absolutely must have TP for its 1963 provenance, and probably more so than the other Hutcherson recently reissued Oblique (future post)


Harry M’s Update: Bobby Hutcherson and Grant Green, 1969



Collector’s Corner

Reader Mike has sent me a picture of a mystery edition of Albert Ayler’s Love Cry –  a title released by Impulse in 1968, on the black/red rim label current at the time. I’ll put you in the picture, with Mike’s mystery release ASR 9165, left, with the US original for comparison, right.

I love a good mystery. A quick check on Discogs brings up no similar entry, that would be too easy, nor is there a trace of the ASR catalogue number – Audio Science Review, and Automated Speech Recognition are the closest search results.  So, on with the deerstalker and out with the Meerschaum pipe.



It took me a few minutes to crack it, but I’ll hold back to start,  I thought it would be fun to give you home-sleuths a chance to pitch their ideas. Why should I have all the fun? The first reader to come up with a convincing solution gets, well, the satisfaction of being LJC’s Smartarse Of The Week. Judges decision is final, only one winner, however, it is a coveted award, I’m  open to offers… 


12 thoughts on “Bobby Hutcherson: The Kicker (1963) Blue Note TP

  1. “Pressed For or By a Registered User” seems to the key. That phrase appears on South African issues of a lot of records, so it has to be that.

    • A couple of readers have correctly identified the South African connection, joint award. Here’s my take:

      An overseas licensed pressing, for “OR” it says on the label, doesn’t mean anything to me.

      The clue as to its origin however is in the music copyright/publishing rights in brackets after each track number. The first five are exactly the same as the US credits, however track 6 is assigned not to “PAB MUSIC CORP – BMI” as on the original US Impulse edition, but to the very unusual name “ Laetrec” . A quick search points to a music publisher in South Africa, Laetrec Music Ltd. active between 1968 and 1975, which times it about right for this edition.

      The collection of composer royalties was tied to local music publishing companies. Most US recordings licensed to EMI/ Decca, Interdisc have proxy UK music publishing credits, like Chappell. I don’t know exactly how it worked, but this is what we are looking for. There is only one link to Laetrec (the unusual spelling makes search pretty accurate) but it is the smoking gun.

      The old Commonwealth countries like Australia and SA had an expatriate market for music by anglophone artists . Exporting heavy LPs wasn’t economic or timely, so local companies remastered and pressed albums from copy tape sent from home. As a licensed copy, the convention was to assign a local catalog number, in this case ASR.

      The label design used was an anachronism, the old orange/black Impulse, not the contemporaneous black/red rim of the US original release. The SA manufacturer will have supplied his printer with the corporate template of “Impulse” – now out of date.

      Game, set and match.

  2. This was a great session , I have enjoyed for years on CD but always felt ” If I should lose you ”
    was an afterthought for the session. Ruppli/Cuscuna discography list it as the last track recorded in the session so maybe my thoughts were correct. Ruppli/Cuscuna also list alternate takes for Step Lightly and The Kicker so I guess we will wait another 20 plus years to hear them.

  3. Hi LJC
    Great review of the Bobby Hutcherson album. Another one on the TP shopping list.
    The Albert Ayler appears to feature an earlier label design than I would expect for its vintage which leads me to think it’s an Australian Issue. I’ve several Oz issues in my collection that carried over earlier label designs, though none on Impulse. So just conjecture!

  4. The track “If Ever I Would Leave You” (Lerner, Loewe) – 10:33 wa omitted from the Tone Poet as it was considered out of step with the rest of the material and to include it and maintain sound quality would have resulted in a 3-sided release; Joe Harley’s decision.

  5. Sounds like you got the ‘Golden Ticket’ copy here; complete with authentic ’Original’ surface noise and repetitive ticks. ;-))

    And please don’t forget the other version of The Kicker to be found on Grant Greens excellent Solid album.

    • Sealed copy, apparently as it came out of the RTI factory, the opening tick is a mystery, how? The only possible explanation is that somebody is resealing returned copies. Nasty thought, but how else could it happen?

      But the tick goes away after a while. RTI need to up their game on their quality control.

      Compared with 60-year old vinyl I mostly listen to it is pretty good, and some modern vinyl I have heard is much worse. Difficult though it can be, the trick is to try and listen to the music, not the faults.

      • To be honest I’ve not had any issues with this series (I have all but 2 titles and nearly as many MMJs). Unlikely a reseal imo. Probably a handling issue during packaging. Personally I would return it. I’ll tolerate a bit of surface noise or the odd click but not repeated clicks.

      • “Difficult though it can be, the trick is to try and listen to the music, not the faults.”

        This attitude of yours is the best, and it’s a major reason why I keep coming back to this website. I also steal this line from time to time but am sure to credit you when I do.

  6. Hi LJC

    Great blog, this TP release will certainly be on my bank statement soon, thanks for helping me spend their money.

    I’m sure I’m not the first to speculate the Albert Ayler mystery title might be a South African issue?

    Keep up the good work.

    Kind regards


  7. piano, vibes, AND guitar? it can get muddy, and often does, but the real pros know how to do it, and these are those pros.

    as for the ayler, a quick and dirty guess would be that this was a private or bootleg demo pressing, as the runouts appear to be the proper machine stamped ones and the text “for a registered user” is intriguing. just a guess.

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