[JPL] Poise in His Performance, Surprises Up His Sleeve

r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 1 14:45:39 EDT 2007

June 1, 2007
Music Review | Bobby Hutcherson Quintet
Poise in His Performance, Surprises Up His Sleeve 
Something funny happened during Bobby Hutcherson’s
second set at the Blue Note on Wednesday night. He was
halfway through a vibraphone solo, just gaining
momentum, when he had the impulse to pound furiously
at a single note — plonk! plonk! plonk! — as if
hammering nails into a board. This intemperate act
seemed to take even Mr. Hutcherson by surprise: he
staggered a couple of steps back from his instrument,
and there was a flicker of mild astonishment on his
face before he convulsed with laughter.

Mr. Hutcherson, 66, is no stranger to bold,
improvisational behavior. Forty years ago he was well
known for his brilliant work on a wave of
left-of-center Blue Note albums, by figures like the
alto saxophonists Eric Dolphy and Jackie McLean; his
definitive effort as a leader, “Stick-Up!,” was issued
in 1966. 

Recently Mr. Hutcherson has favored a tighter range of
expression, focusing on melody and phrasing with the
precision of a good singer. His new album, “For
Sentimental Reasons” (Kind of Blue), features love
songs played with an articulate rhythm section of
Renee Rosnes on piano, Dwayne Burno on bass and Al
Foster on drums. 

That lineup has been augmented at the Blue Note by the
guitarist Russell Malone, who seems to have had a
bracing effect on the music. On Wednesday he took the
first solo, on Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz,” in a
style that felt strategically terse, with eighth notes
bitten off at the ends. Mr. Malone, who is capable of
a much more fluid approach, seemed to be setting up
Mr. Hutcherson for a stylistic contrast. It worked:
the vibraphone solo that followed was a round of
legato cascades.

The combination of vibraphone, guitar and piano hasn’t
been commonly heard since the midcentury heyday of the
George Shearing Quintet. There are reasons for this,
mostly having to do with the issue of overcrowding a
similar register. 

But Mr. Hutcherson and Mr. Malone managed to use this
overlap to their advantage on “Ode to Angela,” a
near-bossa by Harold Land that begins with an
ascending Eastern scale. Ms. Rosnes joined them in
playing the melody, but took care to avoid weighing it

On “Ode to Angela” and a pair of standards, “Old Devil
Moon” and “I Thought About You,” Mr. Hutcherson
demonstrated a measured sort of poise. Occasionally he
would pause midphrase, as if reconsidering his
options, and then branch out in another direction. 

But as he often does with the SFJazz Collective, which
also counts Ms. Rosnes as a member, Mr. Hutcherson
found ways to undercut his own judiciousness. On “Old
Devil Moon” that meant straying outside the tonal
center and straining against the tempo. 

And when the solo ended with a metallic whack on the
lowest key, Mr. Hutcherson rolled his eyes back in his
head. He wasn’t laughing that time, and nobody else
was, either.

The Bobby Hutcherson Quintet continues through Sunday
at the Blue Note, 131 West Third Street, West Village;
(212) 475-8592, bluenote.net.


Roy Durfee
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com

____________________________________________________________________________________Ready for the edge of your seat? 
Check out tonight's top picks on Yahoo! TV. 

More information about the jazzproglist mailing list