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Roger Beaujolais: Sunset

Mark Corroto By

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Track review of "Little B’s Poem"

Maybe it should be a law that every vibraphonist is required to cover Bobby Hutcherson's "Little B's Poem." Okay, perhaps we don't need such a law, but as with pianists covering compositions by Thelonious Monk, a requirement like this would enable us to get the measure of the musician. Here Roger Beaujolais, on his 19th studio album Sarasota Sunsets, sets his sights on the Hutcherson classic. He is joined by pianist Robin Aspland, bassist Simon Thorpe, and drummer Winston Clifford.

The tune first appeared on Hutcherson's Components (Blue Note, 1965), that session included James Spaulding on flute, Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Joe Chambers. It wouldn't be a stretch to state it was the vibraphonist's most requested composition. He performed it hundreds of times for audiences. Funny thing though, I cannot find evidence that other vibraphonists have recorded the track. Sure, pianists like McCoy Tyner, Kevin Hays, George Cables, Cyrus Chestnut, and guitarists Kevin Eubanks and Larry Coryell have performed the piece. Maybe, with the passing of Hutcherson in 2016, it's time to make performance of piece a litmus test for vibes players.

If that were so, Beaujolais would pass the test with flying colors. Given the sophisticated insistence of the melody, Beaujolais navigates the sound with the same California cool as the original. Harmonizing his sound with Aspland's keyboard, the brief but steady solo by Thorpe seals the deal. Beaujolais maintains the hip insouciance that Bobby Hutcherson was known for. The Italians call that sprezzatura, a studied carelessness as the arrow splits the center of the target.

Track Listing: Unlucky For Some; Benign Tonight; And When You Smile; I Love You; In The Meantime; Little B's Poem; Round The Houses; Sunset; Yesterdays.

Personnel: Roger Beaujolais: vibraphone; Robin Aspland: piano; Simon Thorpe: double bass; Winston Clifford: drums.

Title: Sunset | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced

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