Bobby Hutcherson, who died last week at the age of 75, is one of my very favorite jazz musicians. His work for Blue Note in the 1960s as both leader and sideman easily stands up to anyone else's achievements in jazz over that period. Add to that his soulful funkier albums from the 1970s and his eventual return to modern jazz from the 1980s until his passing and it is obvious he was a massive musical talent that never stopped moving forward.
Over the last week I've spent quite a bit of time watching some great live Hutcherson performances, so I figured I'd share some of my favorites with you. I'm also including a great interview he did when he was named an NEA Jazz Master in 2010. In it he says, "If I died right now, I'd want to have people know when they hear my record being played that they can say that's Bobby Hutcherson playing." I'd say he accomplished that and so much more.
First up is a performance by the Bobby Hutcherson & Harold Land Quintet from July of 1969 at the Juan Les Pins Jazz Festival in Antibes, France. The group (with Stanley Cowell, Reggie Johnson and Joe Chambers) rips through a red hot take on "Herzog" (recorded a year earlier on Hutcherson's Total Eclipse album). It's a great reminder of just how perfectly Land and Hutcherson meshed together to create something truly special.
Next we have the McCoy Tyner Quartet with Hutcherson, Charnett Moffet and Eric Harland as they perform an exuberant version of Coltrane's classic "Moment's Notice" at Jazz Baltica in Germany in 2002. Tyner and Hutcherson are in top form throughout, and Harland's drum solo starting at the 4:55 mark is outstanding and shows why he is one of the great jazz drummers of the new millennium.
This next clip features Hutcherson, Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter performing Hutcherson's "Bouquet" from his classic "Happenings" album. The performance dates from the "One Night With Blue Note" concert at The Town Hall in NYC on February 22, 1985. I absolutely love this trio performance, it shows off both what a great composer Hutcherson was, as well as the gentle and emotive touch he could bring to the vibes.
The last video gives us the Herbie Hancock Trio (Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony WIlliams) joined by Hutcherson to form a quartet of jazz legends. We get a great performance of Hutcherson's "Little B's Poem" which may be his most well known composition. The performance is from 1989 at the Mt. Fuji Jazz Festival and the group is definitely firing on all cylinders for this one.
Finally, here is the 2010 interview Hutcherson gave upon being named an NEA Jazz Master. It's not long, but it's informative and certainly poignant given his recent passing.