Friday, June 09, 2006

Bobby Hutcherson - Oblique (Blue Note 1967, 2005)

Oblique was released about halfway through vibraphonist and composer Bobby Hutcherson's excellent mid to late 60's association with Blue Note Records. Here he is joined by drummer and composer Joe Chambers, a frequent Hutcherson confidant, young bassist Albert Stinson and pianist and composer Herbie Hancock. A heavy hitting lineup for one of Hutcherson's few quartet records for Blue Note. "Til Then" starts off the proceedings with a gentle, lullaby like melody and some dreamy sounding chords from Hancock which add to the feel of the music. Hutcherson takes a faster paced solo, dancing and weaving around Hancock's comping. "Bi-Sectional" has a more abstract feel, much closer to the work that Hutcherson did with the likes of Andrew Hill and Eric Dolphy. The liner notes to the CD lament the early death of bassist Albert Stinson, and he makes quite an impact on this song along with Chambers who is all over the drums with some thunderous playing.

"My Joy" returns to a gentle melody, starting as elegiac and sad before the musicians take off an a more urgent improvisational flight. Stinson again stands out with a fast paced and fleet bass solo. The next composition, "Oblique," matches its title with a percussive melody and some very fast collective improvisation. Everybody has to play at a very high level to interact so well at such a fast and complex pace. Joe Chambers gets the nod with some very impressive drum fills. "Subtle Neptune" is a gentle Brazilian flavored piece of music taken at mid-tempo. There is some excellent percussive playing all around especially from Herbie Hancock who takes an excellent and inventive solo. The disc ends with a Hancock composition, the title track from the soundtrack of the movie Blow Up which has a beautiful and memorable melody that the musicians build a strong dark flavored improvisation upon. All in all, this is very good hard-bop jazz with a nice mix of tempos and flavors in it.

Send comments to: Tim