Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bobby Hutcherson - Wise One (Kind of Blue, 2009)

Vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson has been very active of late, recording and touring with the SF Jazz Collective and recording as a bandleader and re-examining his roots. Whereas 2007's For Sentimental Reasons examined some of his favorite ballads, this album is an homage to one foremost influences, the great saxophonist and composer John Coltrane. Joining him on this album are: Anthony Wilson on guitar, Joe Gilman on piano, Glenn Richman on bass and Eddie Marshall drums. While Hutcherson is certainly familiar with Coltrane's freer late period spiritual music, he chooses to focus on the compositions from his middle years where there are wonderful melodies to play and improvise on. The group really shines on the mid-tempo hallowed material, "Spiritual" which Coltrane based on old folk songs and "Wise One" the anchor of his great Crescent LP are played with a thoughtful and compassionate grace, that never dips into heavy solemnity. "Dear Lord" moves into more open ended territory while still keeping the same sanctified feel. The uptempo and boppish "Like Sonny" puts the band through its paces at a faster tempo with wonderful swirling vibes and probing guitar. This was a very successful album, Hutcherson and the rest of the band play with a great deal of patience and respect for the music. The front line of vibraphone and guitar make for an interesting combination and shed new light on these much loved compositions. Hopefully this group will have more opportunities to record, perhaps continuing in a "songbook" series. It would be wonderful to hear them tackle the Monk or Ellington songbooks. Wise One -

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