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Bobby Hutcherson has proven himself to be a consistently brilliant musician for over forty years. The vibraphonist brought his quartet to town last week as part of the Jazz Winnipeg Festival. Not surprisingly, they performed admirably.
The show began with "Pomponio, a harmonically static tune with a Latin tinge. Following the conclusion of the piece, Hutcherson introduced his ensemble and raised his hands up, as if to increase the applause, then brought them down in a kind of decrescendo. He seemed to be in playful, almost goofy mood. Hutcherson often concluded his solos in a peculiar, humorous manner, usually with a descending or ascending pattern or run, punctuated by literally bending his torso at the waist and striking his vibraphone one final time before strolling off stage to make way for the next soloist.
That next soloist was usually Canadian pianist Renee Rosnes, who was both supremely lyrical and melodically inventive. At other times, as on John Coltrane's "The Promise, she would increase the intensity of her solos by utilizing clusters of chords and referring generously to the phraseology of McCoy Tyner. Rosnes was again Tyner-like on "Old Devil Moon, playing with fire and superb articulation. On another standard, "I Thought About You, the leader drew forth the enormous emotional possibilities of the composition and delivered a beautiful solo, displaying his glowing, almost ethereal sound.
The rhythm team of Dwayne Burno (bass) and Eddie Marshall (drums) proved to be competent, although not quite outstanding. They soloed infrequently, and the drummer was featured mainly in exchanges with Rosnes and Huctherson. Burno's ensemble work was a treat, however, as he deftly wove counterlines that complemented what the soloists were playing. His sound was clear, deep and resounding.
Unfortunately for the Hutcherson and his group, the theater was only about two-thirds full. It seems a shame that a musician of his stature could not attract more patrons. But minor quibbles aside, the music was delivered with passion, technical prowess and humor. A memorable concert.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.