CJ Shearn

Bobby Hutcherson RIP

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Damn.

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RIP Bobby!

Photo from SFJAZZ Center groundbreaking event on May 17, 2011.

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R.I.P., Mister Hutcherson.  

Lots of great music from this man.  Without his contributions, the Blue Note 1960s period would be so different.  He provided much brilliant work as a leader and sideman.

Of course, there is much to value in the decades after that.  I like the recent Enjoy the View and Acoustic Masters II--among many others.  

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One of my very favourite artists - gutted to hear this.

I think the first record of his I bought was a DMM of 'Total Eclipse' and over the years I've picked up and enjoyed many more. The one thing that stands out is just how consistently good his playing has been over the years.

Caught him just the once live (with Herbie Hancock in London I think), wish I could have caught him live more. RIP..:(

Edited by sidewinder

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Wow. Irreplaceable people are leaving us, one by one. That is sad.

However, he did enjoy a long and storied career.

Even before becoming a Blue Note regular his work on Eric Dolphy's Out To Lunch knocked me out.

RIP and so long, Bobby Hutcherson. Well done... 

Edited by fasstrack

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Very sad news.  I was initially amazed by his playing with Jackie McLean and Archie Shepp. The subsequent BNs are terrific  I can't say I followed his post Blue Note career very closely.  I did get to see him just once on, a said to be troubled visit to the UK, in a quintet with Hadley Caliman.

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Spinning "Cirrus" from the Mosaic Select. RIP Bobby.

 

 

gregmo

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I'm sampling tracks from Solo & Quartet; it sounds like a fine record.

 

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When I read the title of this thread, I thought of A.B, Spellman's poem, "Bobby's Ballad", which begins:

"bobby hutcherson is playing polka dots/ and moonbeams & it's so clean & pretty/ you'll miss the lyric if you listen lite."

and ends:

"such is the truth of bobby's song/ as he floats plump effulgent polka dots/ into the argent beams of the bayside moon"

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I first he ard him on Gerald Wilson's Everywhere, found that in a cutout bin when I was 15 or 16, didn't know shit about shit, but really dug his relaxed groovy feel. Made a note to lookfor the name, and once decent record stores cane avaiable, carpe-diemed regularly. Never got tired of him, just a soulful player, no matter the idiom, never was there a whiff of insincerity, just beautiful all the time.,

RIP. Irreplaceable indeed.

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Milestones said:

I'm sampling tracks from Solo & Quartet; it sounds like a fine record.

 

"Old Devil Moon" swings like mad.

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Not to mention that we have here yet another magical meeting between Hutcherson and McCoy Tyner.

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Sad news although not a surprise. Thanks Bobby for the great music especially those wonderful Blue Note recordings. I'll try to play some of those on my rare day off tomorrow.

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Very sad news, whether expected or not. The man leaves behind a considerable legacy. God Bless Bobby!

 

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I will miss him terribly.  Redefined the vibes in jazz on countless classic recordings in the 60s (and 70s in my admittedly biased view). I went to Lincoln Center last year to attend a Hutch tribute concert from my home in MD only to find out that because of his failing health, Bobby couldn't attend. However, at the end of the show he Skyped in from his home in CA and sang a few verses of "I'll Be Seeing You" that brought tears to my eyes.  Boy has 2016 been a year for losing great musicians.  Heaven just got a hell of a vibes player.

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I've had trouble processing Bobby's passing, because he hadn't been very (physically) present in the music as of late. So much of the music he made is tied to a particular moment in jazz, although I'd imagine that the years he registered specializing in fairly centrist post-bop are far greater in number than those he spent at the vanguard of the music. It's a lesson to me that contemporary musicians, fans, and critics will be quick to engage with hagiography when it comes to this caliber of musician, because the truth of the music is both much more complex and much more mundane. Bobby was in many ways "just" a diehard gigging musician who "just" so happened to play innovative vibraphone on some of the most important and adventurous albums in the music. 

I also think it's worthwhile to articulate the degree to which Bobby's embodied work sort of undermines the heroic narrative of the jazz innovator. Unlike an Ayler or an Ornette, Bobby's sound wasn't outright heretic and he didn't emerge more or less fully realized--Hutcherson is (more like Dolphy, for example) a testament to how the gradual work of gigging and rehearsing music will often foster its own revolutionaries. Hutcherson did so much work in the trenches, some of it even on record, that I think it's sort of easy to miss that (A) there was no Bobby Hutcherson before Bobby Hutcherson and (B) there were tons of Bobby Hutchersons only after Bobby Hutcherson. The subsequent arc of jazz and free improv vibraphone is way more complex than I'm suggesting here, but it seems apparent to me that we would not have had Gunter Hampel with Marion Brown, Bobby Naughton with Wadada, Steve Nelson with Dave Holland, Bryan Carrott with Threadgill or Osby, or Chris Dingman with Steve Lehman without Bobby's influence. 

Appropos of a different conversation, I think Larry Young is a useful point of comparison. Like Larry (who was styled early on as a kind of secondary Jimmy Smith), a lot of Bobby's first music on record sounds like it could have been played by someone else--the vibraphone contributions to This Is Billy Mitchell are kind of sub-Milt Jackson-type stuff. That being said, like Young, Bobby discovered a kind of impressionistic softening and abstraction of earlier stylists that signaled a new way forward for both his instrument and jazz ensemble dynamics in general. 

Bobby's playing on the really epochal abstract stuff--like Out to LunchEvolution, or Dialogue--teeters between diamond hard and sustained, resonant, and pulsing. Other people were working in parallel compositional and conceptual veins--great players like Gary Burton, Walt Dickerson, or even Roy Ayers--but Bobby inhabited this duality of tonal precision and utter abstraction that is just mind-boggling. In this way, he was a perfect match for a certain school of inside-outside player that was both tonally literate and conceptually free (e.g., Dolphy, Moncur, Herbie Hancock, Andrew Hill, etc.)--but with these elastic chops that could either dive hard into the pocket (Let 'Em Roll, Idle Moments) or way out (the stuff with Archie Shepp). 

Hutcherson could play a little or a lot, but he always seemed to play what was exactly appropriate for a given context. One of the two times I met Hutcherson was backstage at this ridiculous all-star benefit that I somehow found my way onto. In-between my five minutes of stage time and taking photos for Steve Turre, I found Bobby backstage and began to wax prolific about Out to Lunch (i.e., "You changed the way I see music," "It's one of my favorite records," etc. etc.). Bobby echoed something he had said in the press a while back (at the Blue Note sort-of reunion thing a while back, where Hutcherson played "Hat and Beard" in a Dolphian quartet with James Newton), which is that he couldn't believe he played so much on that record. It's weird--Out to Lunch is absolutely a maximalist album, but it has moments of tenderness and sublime rhythmic hookup that a lesser chordal improviser would have completely disfigured. 

Hutcherson was clearly still proud of that music, and it must have felt like a lifetime ago for someone who had left the sound of the 60's somewhere in the dust. That being said, anyone who heard Hutcherson in the last couple decades of his life could hear that he hadn't lost the soft impressionism of his youth (even though he often engaged with a virtuosic prolixity that was probably closer to Lionel Hampton than the stuff on Street of Dreams). The entirety of that man's work--"early" and "late"--stands as a monument to the power of the practice of music--or, rather, Bobby's music serves as a reminder that the very act of making music will both reward and renew itself. 

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4 hours ago, JSngry said:

Never got tired of him, just a soulful player, no matter the idiom, never was there a whiff of insincerity, just beautiful all the time.,

Well said.

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I chose John Handy - New View to play in memory.  Dialogue may well be the peak of a highly accomplished career.  

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I dig the minor, insignificant work, just because as hard as it is to be great, it's possibly even harder to never coast or phone it in or do anything but show up and be happy on the job when the job does not involve the pursuit of greatness. That's when big ears and big heart will combine, not combat, and then make the difference.

God bless a player, whoever, wherever, whatever.

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2 hours ago, ep1str0phy said:

Bobby was in many ways "just" a diehard gigging musician who "just" so happened to play innovative vibraphone on some of the most important and adventurous albums in the music. 

I also think it's worthwhile to articulate the degree to which Bobby's embodied work sort of undermines the heroic narrative of the jazz innovator. Unlike an Ayler or an Ornette, Bobby's sound wasn't outright heretic and he didn't emerge more or less fully realized--Hutcherson is (more like Dolphy, for example) a testament to how the gradual work of gigging and rehearsing music will often foster its own revolutionaries. Hutcherson did so much work in the trenches, some of it even on record, that I think it's sort of easy to miss that (A) there was no Bobby Hutcherson before Bobby Hutcherson and (B) there were tons of Bobby Hutchersons only after Bobby Hutcherson.

I'm letting these four sentences represent this entire mini-essay. Which I'm glad you wrote and I read.

And RIP, Mr. Hutcherson.

Edited by jeffcrom

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

I dig the minor, insignificant work, just because as hard as it is to be great, it's possibly even harder to never coast or phone it in or do anything but show up and be happy on the job when the job does not involve the pursuit of greatness. That's when big ears and big heart will combine, not combat, and then make the difference.

God bless a player, whoever, wherever, whatever.

Yes, yes, yes--exactly. It's the greatness of pursuit v. the pursuit of greatness. (And Jeff, I appreciate you parsing my screed and getting to the heart of this, too.) The not-so-secret secret of the gigging musician is that a tremendous portion of life is spent on stage, in practice, or in rehearsal--again with this phrase, but records only capture part of the story. 

Part of what is so remarkable about Bobby to me is that he attained the remarkable so often in a life less about the grandiose and more about the sheer practice of it. That's a big part of why albums like Choma or San Francisco--or even way later music like Acoustic Masters II--still have a spark, if less touched by chimerical greatness. My FB feed has been inundated by stories of one-offs or unheralded gigs that were just as memorable in their own ways to any number of folks as Out to Lunch is to the sub-popular consciousness.

When McCoy used the phrase "As Serious As Your Life"--this was the "Life" he was talking about. 

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And his scenes in 'Round Midnight are to be treasured.

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