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Bobby Hutcherson: Somewhere In The Night

Dan Bilawsky By

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The elder statesman of the vibraphone and the fastest gun in organ town don't seem like ideal partners on paper, but on record they gel quite well. Blue Note vibraphone icon Bobby Hutcherson and the fleet-fingered Joey DeFrancesco initially teamed up for the organist's Organic Vibes (Concord, 2006), and their chemistry was so strong that they couldn't just let that be a one-off pairing.

Somewhere In The Night finds them sharing stage space while entertaining adoring fans at Jazz At Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in the fall of 2009. Hutcherson gets top billing this time, but the issue of ownership doesn't mean a heck of a lot here; Hutcherson, DeFrancesco, and the organist's trio mates—guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Byron Landham—all deliver the goods in sterling fashion.

The album-opening "Teddy" is powered by Landham's propulsive cymbal work, but DeFrancesco's angular soloing is the attention-grabber. His notes-a-plenty approach, which can be overwhelming at other times, serves him well here. Things continue swimmingly as Hutcherson touches on his well-known "Little B's Poem" and nods to vibraphone forefather Milt Jackson with a bluesy take on "SKJ." Landham tears it up at the tail end of pianist Duke Ellington's "Take The Coltrane" and Bernstein gets to the heart of the matter during his solo spot on saxophonist John Coltrane's "Wise One," which starts off in an open, spiritual realm before settling into a straight groove.

The title track finds the soloists making greater use of space in their individual statements, while "My Foolish Heart" wins the award for most affecting performance. Hutcherson's introductory cadenza places his vibes deep in a dream, his soloing is melodicism distilled to its essence, and his musical thoughts twinkle like the stars in the sky as things wrap up; Landham and DeFrancesco deserve bonus points for their sensitive background work on this one. A hard-swinging "S'Wonderful" almost seems superfluous after such an emotional rendering, but it ends things in upbeat fashion.

Before Organic Vibes, Hutcherson hadn't really connected with the organ since his mid-sixties meetings with Larry Young on guitarist Grant Green's Street Of Dreams (Blue Note, 1964), and on organist Big John Patton's Let 'Em Roll (Blue Note, 1965), but it's hard to understand why. Hutcherson and DeFrancesco prove to be a perfect match. Perhaps Hutcherson was just biding his time until the real thing came along.

Track Listing: Teddy; Little B's Poem; SKJ; Take The Coltrane; Wise One; Somewhere In The Night; My Foolish Heart; S'Wonderful.

Personnel: Bobby Hutcherson: vibraphone; Joey DeFrancesco: Hammond B-3 organ; Peter Bernstein: guitar; Byron Landham: drums.

Title: Somewhere In The Night | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Kind of Blue Records

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