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The 1970s are often disparaged as an era dominated by fusion and disco, which is largely true. But there was also some excellent, innovative jazz being made. Unfortunately, owing to the commercial realities of the dayand many subsequent dayssome of the best '70s jazz has remained unreleased or available only to the most intrepid of fans.
Case in point: Bobby Hutcherson's mid-1970s output for Blue Note, much of which has never been issued on CD in the US. But thanks to the team at Mosaic Records, five of the great vibraphonist's long-lost albums can now be heard on a limited-edition three-disc set. The albums feature Hutcherson in mostly straight-ahead, small-group sessions that make few concessions to the prevailing musical trends of the period, save the occasional electric piano.
Cirrus, from 1974, highlights Hutcherson's working band, including, among others, bassist Ray Drummond and trumpeter Woody Shaw, whose classic composition "Rosewood was recorded here for the first time. Inner Glow, a 1975 date released only in Japan, boasts an exciting three-horn front line of Harold Land, Oscar Brashear and Thurman Green. The remaining three albums, Waiting, The View From the Inside and Knucklebean, feature talented, but lesser-known sidemen like saxophonist Manny Boyd, drummer Eddie Marshall and bassist James Leary III, who, along with Hutcherson, contributes many of the fine, heavily Coltrane-influenced compositions. Freddie Hubbard is a guest on Knucklebean, providing some of his best work in what was a largely forgettable period for the trumpeter.
Hutcherson is splendid throughout, reaffirming his reputation as the premier post-bop vibraphonist in jazz. Taken together, these sides rival, but don't quite match his somewhat more exploratory work of the 1960s. Still, kudos to Mosaic for bringing these hidden gems back into the spotlight.
Track Listing: CD1: Rosewood; Even Later; Wrong Or Right; Zuri Dance; Cirrus; Cowboy Bob; Searchin' The Trane; Inner Glow; Roses Poses. CD2: Boodaa; Waiting; Prime Thought; Roses Poses; Don't Be Afraid (To Fall In Love Again); Searchin' The Trane; Hangin' Out (With You); Convergence (Coming In Again); Later, Even; Houston St., Thursday Afternoon. CD3: Same, Shame; Love Can Be Many Things; Song For Annie; Laugh, Laugh Again; For Heaven's Sake; Why Not; Sundance Knows; So Far, So Good; Little B's Poem; 'Til Then; Knucklebean.
Personnel: Bobby Hutcherson: vibes: marimba; Woody Shaw: Oscar Brashear: trumpet; Manny Boyd: Harold Land: Hadley Caliman: saxophones; Thurman Green: trombone; James Leary III: Ray Drummond: Kent Brinkley: bass; Larry Hancock: Eddie Marshall: drums; George Cables: Bill Henderson: Dwight Dickerson: piano.