Bobby Hutcherson

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Bobby Hutcherson at a concert (2007)

Robert "Bobby" Hutcherson (* 27. January 1941 in Los Angeles , California ; † 15 August 2016 Montara , California) was an American vibraphonist of modern jazz , who is also on since the 1970s Marimba isolated and on the xylophone emerged. He is considered a pioneer for modern jazz vibraphone playing.

life and work

Bobby Hutcherson learned from his aunt with nine years playing the piano and joined with 15 when he the plate The Giants of Modern Jazz by Milt Jackson heard (of there with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk played), for vibraphone; he took lessons from Terry Trotter and Dave Pike . At the age of 21 he played with Don Cherry , Paul Bley and Charles Lloyd ; he played his first record under Curtis Amy . In 1960 he also recorded with Les McCann . Then he was part of the Al Gray / Billy Mitchell sextet and toured the United States. When they played at Birdland in New York , he stayed there. He was hired by Jackie McLean ; in 1963 he took on Blue Note Records first plates as a companion to, including important recordings by Grant Green ( Idle Moments , 1963, Street of Dreams , 1964), Jackie McLean ( Destination ... Out! , 1963), Andrew Hill ( Judgment! , 1964) and by Eric Dolphy ( Out to Lunch , 1964). He was also able to record his first album The Kicker for this label at the end of 1963 . In 1965, when his next album Dialogue was released, he was a member of Archie Shepp's avant-garde quartet , with whom he also performed at the Newport Jazz Festival . In the same year he also belonged to the free play groups of Charles Tolliver and Grachan Moncur III (which were documented with performances on the Impulse record "The New Wave in Jazz"). At the same time he played albums with Dexter Gordon and John Patton that were more mainstream .

Since 1965, more and more own recordings with well-known sidemen such as Joe Henderson or Sam Rivers followed . His early records show him close to free jazz . In 1968 he returned to California, where he formed a group with Harold Land from 1969 to 1971 and played with Gerald Wilson . During the 1970s he also learned marimba and regularly attracted attention with his own albums. On solo quartet he plays on the A side in the playback process vibraphone, xylophone, marimba, Bassmarimba, glockenspiel , tubular bells and Boo-bam .

In his later recordings with Harold Land (from 1981) he oriented himself more towards the achievements of the West Coast idiom. During the 1980s he was a member of the Timeless All Stars , which in addition to Land also included Curtis Fuller , Cedar Walton , Buster Williams and Billy Higgins . Recent recordings with McCoy Tyner show his precision. With Land of Giants , a more recent document of this collaboration has been available since 2003.

Bobby Hutcherson at the Berkeley Jazz Festival in 1982

He was also involved in albums by musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie , John Handy , Prince Lasha , Ella Fitzgerald , Sonny Stitt , McCoy Tyner, Chico Freeman , Freddie Hubbard , Sonny Rollins , Pharoah Sanders , John Hicks , Abbey Lincoln and Barney Kessel . In the 2000s he played in the SFJazz Collective for Joshua Redman .

In 2010 he received the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship .

Bobby Hutcherson died on August 15, 2016 at the age of 75 in Montara, near San Francisco .


Hutcherson's style is characterized by a number of technical peculiarities: He hardly ever used the pedal , so he didn't play long-lasting sounds (individual notes did), especially no broken ( arpeggiated ) chords, as many other vibraphonists do. He also played without vibrato and with four mallets since the early 1960s . According to Joachim-Ernst Berendt , he “found surprisingly rich sounds that were sometimes close to electronic music .” As an accompanist, his open sound was appreciated by soloists, and his vibraphone accompaniment gave the soloist space to develop his own ideas.

In terms of sound, his style is partially assigned to hard bop , because he played a lot with musicians from this direction (e.g. Jackie McLean or Herbie Hancock ). His early collaboration with Hancock, for example on Components (1965), was of an experimental nature. A later example is the piece Minuit Aux Champs-Elysées on the soundtrack Round Midnight (1985) for the film of the same name by Bertrand Tavernier with Dexter Gordon. At first, however, he was rooted in West Coast jazz , then prepared the avant-garde jazz in order to play a kind of " pseudo-fusion " in the 1970s and finally to return to his beginnings.

Discographic notes

  • For Sentimental Reasons (2007)
  • Skyline (1999)
  • Landmarks (1992)
  • Mirage (1991)
  • Ambos Mundos (1989)
  • Essence: The Timeless All-Stars (1986)
  • In the Vanguard , 32 Jazz (1986)
  • Color Schemes (1985) with Mulgrew Miller (p)
  • Four Seasons (1983)
  • Farewell Keystone (1982)
  • Solo / Quartet (1981) page 2 with McCoy Tyner (p)
  • Un Poco Loco (1979)
  • The View from the Inside (Blue Note, 1977)
  • Inner Glow (1975)
  • Montara (Blue Note, 1975)
  • Linger Lane (Blue Note Japan, 1975)
  • Cirrus (Blue Note, 1974)
  • Live at Montreux (1973) with Hotep Galeta
  • Natural Illusions (1972)
  • San Francisco (Blue Note, 1971)
  • Now! (1969)
  • Patterns (1968)
  • Total Eclipse (Blue Note, 1968)
  • Oblique (1967)
  • Happenings (Blue Note, 1966)
  • Dialogue (Blue Note, 1965)
  • Spiral (1965)
  • Components (1965)


Web links

Commons : Bobby Hutcherson  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Andrew Gilbert: Bobby Hutcherson, Jazz Legend of the Vibraphone, Dies at 75. In: August 15, 2016, accessed April 22, 2017 .
  2. See Kampmann, p. 257. An author of liner notes said it was difficult not to call Hutcherson "the greatest new vibraphonist since Milt Jackson ".
  3. ^ Review of the album on ( Memento from February 11, 2010 in the Internet Archive ).
  4. Joachim E. Berendt: The Jazz Book. Frankfurt a. M. 1974, p. 233.
  5. ^ Richard Cook: Jazz Encyclopedia. London 2007, and Andre Asriel: Jazz. Aspects and Analysis. Berlin (GDR) 1984, p. 226.
  6. live, symbiotic interaction with Kenny Barron (p)