Bobby Hutcherson - "Montara"

 Bobby Hutcherson - "Montara" - Front Cover

Bobby Hutcherson • Montara • 1975 • Blue Note Records BN-LA551-G
Recorded August 12 & 14 at The Record Plant, Hollywood

The Players:
Bobby Hutcherson - vibes, marimba
Oscar Brashear, Blue Mitchell - trumpet
Plas Johnson - flute
Ernie Watts, Fred Jackson, Jr. - tenor saxophone, flute
Eddie Cano - piano
Larry Nash - electric piano
Dennis Budimir - guitar
Chuck Domanico, Dave Troncoso - bass
Harvey Mason - drums
Bobby Matos, Johnny Paloma, Victor Pantoja, Ralph MacDonald, Willie Bobo, Rudy Calzado - percussion
Dale Oehler - arranger

The Tracks:

A1. Camel Rise
A2. Montara
A3. La Malanga (Se Acabo)
A4. Love Song
B1. Little Angel
B2. Yuyo
3. Oye Como Va

The Music:

I think it's safe to say that in the mid-1960's few people would have picked Bobby Hutcherson to be one of the musicians that would stay with Blue Note deep into the 1970's, but he most certainly did, and he made some amazing records along the way. Montara, from 1975, may very well be the best of the bunch. Starting with the jazz-funk masterpiece San Francisco in 1970, Hutcherson seemingly recorded one great album after another until he finally departed the label in 1978. The records were all funky soul-jazz outings that never strayed too far from the core aesthetics of the classic jazz sound, but what sets Montara apart is the addition of a distinct latin-jazz sound to the proceedings, both in the compostitions and the musicians he chose to work with.

Hutcherson's playing is in line with his classic dates for Blue Note, that gentle touch married with a melodic groove, that works just as well on the funkier tracks such as "Camel Rise" as it does on ballad tracks like "Love Song." The album was recorded in Los Angeles and it while it has all the hallmarks of the best latin-jazz albums of the mid-1970's, it also maintains a definite soul-jazz feel on both the upbeat and slower tunes.

The album wasn't particularly well known outside the hard-core jazz world until recently, when Madlib sampled the title track for his 2003 jazz-sampling-hip-hop Shades Of Blue (check out the track here) at which point the record began to be very sought after by a new generation of rare-groove crate diggers.


The Vinyl:

My pressing is an original from 1975 on the "black b" label and as such it sounds good, but good in a 1970's kind of way, rather than that deep full sound that can be found on original jazz pressings from the fifties and sixties. It is more than passable, but I would recommend not settling for any copy that is less than Very Good Plus, which is currently selling in the $20-40 range. As far as I know this hasn't been re-issued on vinyl yet.