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Bobby Hutcherson: Wise One (2009)

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Bobby Hutcherson: Wise One How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Recently named NEA Jazz Master, Bobby Hutcherson has an extensive discography, though opportunities to record as a leader have slowed a good bit since the dawn of the 21st century. Hutcherson is still very much an important vibraphonist, as this excellent tribute to John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
reveals. All nine songs were either written or recorded by Coltrane, though Hutcherson's choice of instrumentation deliberately moves away from the jazz master's typical groups. Guitarist Anthony Wilson
Anthony Wilson
Anthony Wilson
b.1968
guitar
takes the place of a second reed instrument while pianist Joe Gilman
Joe Gilman
Joe Gilman

piano
and drummer Eddie Marshall
Eddie Marshall
Eddie Marshall
b.1938
drums
both have a lighter style of playing in comparison to McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
b.1938
piano
and Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
1927 - 2004
drums
respectively. Bassist Glenn Richman is not as well known as his fellow musicians on the date, though he establishes himself as a solid player from the onset. Hutcherson, who, despite being active in jazz for the last seven years of Coltrane's life, never recorded with him, offers interpretations that provide a striking contrast to those heard on the late saxophonist's albums.

The four Coltrane pieces, for the most part, are infrequently explored by other jazz musicians. The brooding, powerful "Spiritual" retains its tension, though the vibes are much lighter than Coltrane's soprano sax, as is Wilson's guitar in place of Eric Dolphy
Eric Dolphy
Eric Dolphy
1928 - 1964
reeds
's piercing bass clarinet. The breezy Latin setting of "Like Sonny" contrasts with the reflective interpretation of the title track and the gently swinging "Dear Lord."

Although Coltrane was a prolific composer during the 1960s, he took time out to explore compositions by others. Two standards, "Nancy (With the Laughing Face)" and "All or Nothing at All," appeared on the Ballads album, rumored to have been a rebuttal to critics who thought Coltrane was no longer capable of playing a great melody without an avalanche of notes. Hutcherson takes the former in a reserved fashion while the latter is played as a brisk bossa nova, with delightful comping by the rhythm section. Tyner's "Aisha" is a rarity because Coltrane rarely recorded his sidemen's originals. Hutcherson's spacious, shimmering arrangement does much to unveil its beauty, an early work that is deserving of greater exploration by others.

Track Listing: Wise One; Like Sonny; Aisha; Equinox; All Or Nothing At All; Nancy (With The Laughing Face); Spiritual; Out Of This World; Dear Lord.

Personnel: Bobby Hutcherson: vibes; Anthony Wilson: electric guitar; Joe Gilman: piano; Glenn Richman: bass; Eddie Marshall: drums.

Record Label: Kind of Blue Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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