Aug 17, 2016
Bobby Hutcherson, a vibraphonist whose adventurous, harmonically
challenging playing in the 1960s made him one of the most
influential jazz musicians on his instrument, died Aug. 15 at his
home in Montara, California at the age of 75. The cause was
A major player in the halcyon days of Blue Note Records, Hutcherson took the vibes in different directions than his mentors and peers would attempt. For every melodic, lyrical solo he recorded, there were also the dissonant, rhythmic and pulsing sounds of modern jazz in his work.
Inspired by the sounds of Milt “Bags” Jackson, the vibes master who helped create “third stream” and chamber jazz, Hutcherson taught himself the demanding instrument, eventually serving as the bridge between the traditional sounds of Red Norvo, Lionel Hampton and Jackson to the contemporary sounds of Gary Burton, Joe Locke and Stefon Harris and more recently, Warren Wolf.
Recording for Blue Note Records from 1963 to 1977, Mr. Hutcherson effortlessly moved from hard-bop jazz to more avant-garde styles. Besides the 22 solo albums he released for the label during that time, he served as sideman on some of the most important albums and for cutting edge artists of the day, taking key roles and contributing songs to Jackie McLean’s One Step Beyond; Grant Green’s Idle Moments; Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch!; Joe Henderson’s Mode for Joe; and Andrew Hill’s Judgment!. McCoy Tyner counted him as a regular member of his recording ensemble, and he cut sides with the likes of Woody Shaw, Sonny Rollins, Harold Land and Donald Byrd.
Born Jan. 27, 1941, in Los Angeles, the son of a brick mason and hairdresser, he moved to New York as he advanced in his craft. A 1967 arrest for buying marijuana cost him his valuable cabaret card, and led him to return to California. He remained there for the rest of his life, writing, recording and assisting in the formation of the SFJazz Collective, a thriving repertory group.
He continued to record well into his 70’s, including Enjoy the View for Blue Note and Somewhere in the Night for the Kind of Blue label. Hutcherson was named an NEA Jazz Master in 2010.
Podcast 547 is my tribute to Bobby Hutcherson, featuring tunes from his solo albums as well as some of my favorite sideman sessions. Musical selections, many of which Hutcherson wrote, include:
Bobby Hutcherson – “Little B’s Poem” from Components
Bobby Hutcherson – Title Track from Medina
Grant Green – “Django” from Idle Moments
Bobby Hutcherson – “Blues Mind Matter” from Stick-Up!
Jackie McLean – “Blue Rondo” from One Step Beyond
Eric Dolphy – “Something Sweet, Something Tender” from Out to Lunch!
Harold Land – “Timetable” from The Peace-Maker
Andrew Hill – “Alfred” from Judgment!
Bobby Hutcherson – “’For Heaven's Sake" from Enjoy the View