Bobby Hutcherson: Stick Up” (1966) Liberty Blue Note/Tone Poet (2022)

Selection: Verse (Hutcherson)

.  .  .


A1 Una Muy Bonita (Ornette Coleman) 6:25
A2 8/4 Beat 6:55
A3 Summer Nights 6:55
B1 Black Circle 7:00
B2 Verse 9:25
B3 Blues Mind Matter 3:30   

Total length: 40:10; all compositions Hutcherson except A1 (Coleman);  first released by Liberty in February 1968.


Joe Henderson, tenor sax; Bobby Hutcherson, vibes; McCoy Tyner, piano; Herbie Lewis, bass; Billy Higgins, drums; recorded Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, July 14, 1966


BlueNote: “Vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson had a profound influence over the sound of Blue Note Records in the 1960s, with his distinctive vibes elevating a wide range of all-time classics  His fifth Blue Note session as a leader, 1966’s album Stick-Up! found Hutcherson in the company of a new band line-up, a versatile quintet which covers a vast expanse of post-bop territory.”

Oh Gosh this is a beauty.

Huge wide soundstage. Hutcherson’s luminous ringing tones fill the room, Tyner’s glistening modal waves gently sweep the shore, Herbie Lewis masterly bass anchors the floor.  Billy Higgins featherlight brushwork is punctuated with an intermittent kick in the solar plexus, Henderson’s abrasive horn, caged ominously in the left speaker, is let loose, snarling…

Simply wonderful. 

First light next morning alarm clock, friendly red numbers declare. . .1966! The Space Time Continuum had …fractured. I turned on the TV to catch the news, in black and white. War was still raging in Vietnam,  a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber had just accidentally dropping three hydrogen bombs somewhere in Europe, and in Swinging London, the mini-skirt was under threat. 

My Wardrobe Disaster – flared trousers, all six inches too tight at the waist, paisley shirts all size “Small”. Still, I can now listen to my  hi-fi in peace, music as it was meant to be heard, 1966,  .  . .

Oh dear! 

Returning to1966 is not going to be without problems! But neither will going forward to 2023: the Cost-Of-Listening Crisis.

Vinyl: BST 84244 (Tone Poet Series)

“Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio from the original analog master tapes, pressed on 180g vinyl at Record Technology Inc. (RTI); produced by Joe Harley.”

Note “Mastered from the original analog master tapes“, not: “Newly Remastered”; “High Definition Remastering”; “Analogue sound from the original tapes”; “From the best sources available”; “Mastered by celebrity engineer Fred Bloggs, on a newly restored Scullyman lathe”; “pressed at Area 51, Nevada, on Strontium-90 radioactive vinyl”, or any other reissue industry BS. (You can tell, I’m getting annoyed by all the hype)

Kevin Gray Mastering: Kevin P Gray @ Cohearent Audio

Gatefold: lovely.

Collector’s Corner

For years I had a 1968 Liberty “original”, which I found dull and lifeless, on slightly noisy vinyl, not through mechanical damage but I suspect the result of vinyl extender rather than recycled, but made you constantly aware of the surface, irritating. I assumed it was an original, but with growing knowledge I twigged it was not the Van Gelder mastered edition but a West Coast Liberty edition, remastered at the same time from copy tape by Liberty engineers.

Interestingly, the Discogs entry is a copy of the non-Van Gelder edition, a layer of detail too far to distinguish between releases of the same nominal title. They sound different, guys. Instead you have to rely on the Collector’s Notes to point out the all-important detail.

I played the Tone Poet side by side with the non-Van Gelder West Coast pressing, theoretically the same music, but the experience is quite different. The Tone Poet just springs to life. And what a life, beautiful enveloping sound. I have not heard the Van Gelder original press, could be it’s better than all, but I am not minded to seek one out.

Out and About – a Collector’s Dilemma

A record I noticed on display for a first time this week in a London record store. What is it worth to own something that almost no-one else has? A piece of history,1967, that will never be seen again? If you are a David Bowie obsessive – he seems to inspire that following – quite a lot, it seems. Though Bowie’s not for me, as a collector I can actually understand it. In a world where everything can be copied, reissued, re-mastered, something everyone can own, how does it feel to be the only one (or one of just a few) to own this original artefact? 

Fortunately, I collect records only in order to play them, the true collector operates on different wavelength: scarcity. The famous advertising agency guru and collector of modern painting, Charles Saatchi,  introduces himself as an Artoholic. I guess that makes me an Audioholic. I just want music to sound even better. Correction: I need it to sound better.

In order to increase my enjoyment of all the records I own, not just to add another one, a small improvement to the interface between the vinyl and the ears was called for, the replacement of my nine-year old Dynavector TKR cartridge, with this beauty, the XV1T:

It’s a beast, unlocking yet more detail from the groove I’ve not heard until now.   Hopefully it will bring more pleasure to every listening day – that is what I call return on investment.

Among the first on the turntable was the Kevin Gray remaster of Bobby Hutcherson’s Stick Up! which I have to say, sounds truly astonishing, possibly better still. 



15 thoughts on “Bobby Hutcherson: Stick Up” (1966) Liberty Blue Note/Tone Poet (2022)

  1. I have history with Stick-Up! It was the joint-first Bobby Hutcherson record I owned. I acquired an original stereo Van Gelder pressings of it and Components at the same time back in the early 1990s through one of the postal auctions organized by the late lamented legendary Mole Jazz record shop in London.

    I’ve always considered it to be one of the liveliest sounding original Blue Notes in my collection. Right from the get-go the band and the sound comes rifling out of my speakers as they energetically tear into Una Muy Bonita. But there’s a range of moods across this record and I concur with other commenters here that Verse is something very special. I’ve also got a soft spot for 8/4 Beat.

    I only have the stereo OG so I can’t offer an opinion on comparison with the Tone Poet pressing. All I can say is that I’m very much more than happy with how my copy sounds and I won’t be tempted by the Tone Poet (sorry jazzsaraswati – but I do appreciate your excellent work in making this series because it gives people an affordable access point to high quality audio of a lot of otherwise hard to find masterpieces).


  2. I’ve had a Liberty Stereo “Promo” for a number of years and have enjoyed it, do I think it’s one the better mastered/pressed OG Blue Note’s? No….All of the TP’s have been great so far so I’m sure it’s worth it but one copy is good enough 😀


  3. You can also recognise the eastcoast and the westcoast presses by the labels..
    Eastcoast always Side 1 Side 2 with 1 capital
    Westcoast SIDE 1 SIDE 2 with only capital

    LJC adds


  4. I posted my thoughts here:

    I agree on the superiority of the TP stereo to OG stereo. The OG mono, fold down that it is, has some magic though that gives the TP a run for the money. And yes, I reckon the Van Gelder Mono very much has a mid range / mid bass boost.

    LJC buts in: allow me to copy your excellent Collector Advisory Note here, preserved for posterity:
    “Decided to take my time with this one, a personal fav for many many years. First, scrap the Liberty Stereo. While its fine and has its merits, the dynamism, clarity, and presentation of the new Tone Poet is revelatory by comparison. It really is a no brainer. The radio only mono promo is a different beast. Bias alert: I’ve always preferred the mono to my OG stereo copy and the ‘97 McMaster Connoisseur. It’s a much tighter race here. The Tone Poet’s clarity and dynamics gives way to a greater rhythmic drive and overall bloom — the music spills out into your room rather than out of your speakers. The mono also has a midrange / midbass presence (boost?) that unifies the quintet / proceedings in a way the TP does not. Still, the TP’s strengths are difficult to ignore. Push with an ever so slight Pisa lean. Ditch your earlier copies and grab the Tone Poet. And if you run into an affordable mono copy in the wild”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Until this new Tone Poet came along Stick-Up was not a record I was familiar with — and I am still acclimatising to it. I’m kicking off some Saturday listening with side two.

    I love Henderson’s guttural ‘parps’ in the intro to Black Circle and the breathy long-held background notes in the intro to Verse… At times Joe is quite Rivers-ish on this record, I think — that sort of strangulated, churning thing that Rivers does…

    And as Rodney said above, Verse is such a satisfying tune — the swinging subtlety of Higgins’ drumming, the most delicate of rim-shots pushing things along…

    A terrific record — and this reissue finally does it full justice.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very informative write up….well done sir! I do have a Van Gelder OG btw. I always compare the test pressing when it comes in with the OG. I slept very well that evening. The “punch” that some refer to on the OG is a result of using limiting (“compression”). Rudy typically used 8:1 limiting on his cuts. Which means you might have to turn the Tone Poet version up a slight bit for a real comparison. Enjoy!


    • Fun question: Did RVG really use “compression”? I think before the digital age, all they were doing was to reduce the signal that rises above a pre-defined “threshold” (to prevent overmodulation). RVG basically rolled off certain areas in the frequency spectrum to get a more powerful middle range, and to prevent needle skipping caused by too much bass. In my understanding, digital audio compression is quite a different thing.


  7. I’ve got a stereo ‘Stick Up’ original with Van Gelder in the run-out with that lighter blue label and just given it a spin to compare with the Tone Poet. The original is, as expected, cut hotter and is punchy. The Tone Poet has a wider, more uniform sound and Herbie Lewis’ bass comes across perhaps with more clarity. Preference is probably for the original, largely because I like the Van Gelder ‘house’ sound but I wouldn’t want to be without the Tone Poet either. Plethora of riches !


  8. Fantastic write up, completely agree with every sentiment, it sure is a honey this one.
    “Mastered from the original analog master tapes“. This in itself is still ambiguous IMO. I do know full well that these Tone Poets are ‘cut from the original analogue master tape’ though. I just can’t understand why Joe and Kevin don’t use this totally unambiguous statement that some others manage to. I mean, Mofi could still claim “Mastered from the original analog master tapes“ and look where they ended up?

    Many congratulations on the DR- Xv1-t, I’ve had mine for 7 years now and although Dynavector Japan says it’s in great shape I think it’s time for a rebuild as of all my carts including a TKR it’s now the noisiest 🥲


  9. Verse is one of the greatest jazz tracks I’ve ever heard. Yes, really. I discovered it last Autumn and it seemed to match and soothe the stress I was experiencing at the time. It’s a cracking tune.


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