Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bobby Hutcherson - Mosaic Select (Mosaic, 2007)

The Penguin Guide to Jazz states that if Bobby Hutcherson played any other instrument than vibraphone he would be considered one of the major instrumentalists of the post-war era. Regardless, he has had quite an impact, leading or appearing on a series of groundbreaking recordings in the 1960's for Blue Note and then sticking with that label until they went into hibernation on the late 1970's. This collection brings back into view a number ofHutcherson sessions for Blue Note cut between 1974-1977. Blue Note and acoustic jazz in general were in a period of slow decline, and these albums were poorly distributed and sank into obscurity with relatively little notice. It's good to have this music back in circulation, because it is of very high quality. With sidemen like trumpeters Woody Shaw and Freddie Hubbard, saxophonists Harold Land and Manny Boyd the music runs the gamut from high octane cookers like the two takes of "Searchin' the Trane" to a wonderful take of his original ballad "Little B's Poem." Hutcherson the composer is very well represented on this collection as well as the formidable instrumentalist. His vibraphone playing is shimmering and gorgeous while his marimba work is dry, percussive and very distinctive. Bobby Hutcherson spent a period in the wilderness of jazz without recording and his influence began to wane. With the reemergence of this long lost music along with his participation in the SF Jazz Collective and an excellent new collection of ballads, he seems poised to take his rightful place as a musician of great distinction and influence.


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