Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bobby Hutcherson - Head On (Blue Note, 1971, 2007)

This is a very interesting reissue of music by vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. Originally categorized as an avant garditst because of his association with the likes of Andrew Hill, Eric Dolphy and Sam Rivers, Hutcherson in fact defied categorization. While he loved the exploration of the avant garde, as seen here, he was also interested in abstract orchestral shadings and funky fusion improvisation. This very long CD is contains two sessions, first the original Head On session, in which Hutcherson collaborates with a classical composer and pianist, and a second previously unreleased session where he leads a group through a series of long bass heavy fusion-ish improvisations. The first four selections on the album consist of the original Head On release, which have a collaboration between Hutcherson and third stream composer and pianist Todd Cochran. The music has a thoughtful pastel like feel, reminiscent of the work Gil Elans was doing at the time, or the music Maria Schneider would peruse more recently, while "Togo Land" and "Hey Harold" from the unreleased session are anchored by massive bass grooves, much like those that were being laid down by Michael Henderson for the Miles Davis groups at the time. Ethereal flute drifts hypnotically around "Hey Harold." The music doesn't sound dated at all, and it is just waiting for some forward thinking DJ's to spin into dance remixes. I found this disc to be enjoyable, as it showed two more sides of a multi-faceted musician. Hutcherson thrives here in both the near classical and the free funk arenas, as well as the hard bop and avant garde music that he had previously explored.

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