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Steve Hobbs: Tribute to Bobby

Roger Farbey By

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Steve Hobbs's third CD featuring this quartet is studded with lively compositions, mostly written by him. The paradoxically breezy opener (considering the dark derivation of its title) "The Craving Phenomenon" is an example of this lightness of touch. Hobbs is heard here on marimba as he is on the next track "Into The Storm," a labyrinthine piece played at a helter skelter speed, mostly in 5/4. The standard "Besame Mucho" brings the pace down a little and there's a gripping piano solo from Bill O'Connell. There's a brief self-contained little coda too.

An early Coltrane feel haunts "New Creation" and Adam Kolker's muscular tenor sax certainly adds credence to this groove. "Tres Vias," so named because of its three sections, evinces an innate charm, Hobbs's angular marimba to the fore, is followed by Kolker on soprano and lastly O'Connell on piano. The rock-influenced "Thelonius Funk" shares some similarities with mid-period Frank Zappa when the late iconoclast, experimenting with more complex time signatures employed Ruth Underwood on marimba to great effect. "The Road To Happy Destiny" is an upbeat gospel sounding tune featuring three guest vocalists and replete with a scat solo from Marvin Thorne is followed by a brisk vibes solo from Hobbs. Bob Dylan's "Blowing In The Wind" is afforded a gently respectful treatment with Hobbs featured again on vibes.

"El Sueno De Horace Silver" ("The Dream Of Horace Silver") is a Latin-tinged homage to the great man with some restrained hard bop overtones. "In From The Storm," the second and final track to feature the guest vocalists, is a lush bossa nova with Hobbs again on vibes. The penultimate number is a calypso, "Let's Go To Abaco!" and the set concludes with the Rodgers and Hart song "Where Or When" played at a fairly fast tempo. As its title suggests, this CD is a paean to the late, great vibraphone virtuoso Bobby Hutcherson and its seventy five minutes is filled with attractive pieces, expertly executed. Hobbs main instrument throughout is marimba, an instrument less heard in jazz than others, especially in a soloing context, so it makes for an interesting recording. As a side note, Hobbs has troubled to provide a booklet containing no few than thirteen pages of very informative sleeve notes plus photos, which add useful context to the tracks.

Track Listing: The Craving Phenomenon; Into The Storm; Besame Mucho; New Creation; Tres Vias; Millie; Thelonious Funk; The Road To Happy Destiny; Blowing In The Wind; El Sueno De Horace Silver; In From The Storm; Let's Go To Abaco! Where Or When.

Personnel: Steve Hobbs: marimba, vibraphone; Adam Kolker: tenor and soprano saxophones; Bill O’Connell: piano; Peter Washington: bass; John Riley: drums. Carol Ingbretsen, Maurice Myers, Marvin Thorne: vocals.

Title: Tribute to Bobby | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Challenge Records

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