Bobby Hutcherson really doesn't say much between songs when playing live. His focus is on the mood and the music and he speaks through his vibraphone. Breathing through pursed lips as the tones from his instrument resonate throughout the room, he will occasionally smile as Renee Rosnes impresses him with the textures she overlays. There is always that undertone of sophistication and subtle humour. I especially like when he ends a song emphatically by striking a low single note at the bottom of the register on his vibes. Take that!
Having caught five sets of Bobby's band over the last year from locales as distant as Vancouver to New York I was fortunate to have gained an appreciation for what was to become the CD, For Sentimental Reasons. Little did I know when I caught Bobby at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola last November that he and the band were recording the new CD. I think one of the sets that stands out the most for me was a Saturday night at the Blue Note during his CD release party this past June. What a treat.
The song, For Sentimental Reasons, is just that....sentimental. Ode to Angela is a breezy workout by the band, a great driving song. Listen to how Renee fills in the spaces around Bobby's playing on Embraceable You, Dwayne and Al provide a tasty backdrop. Along Came Betty steps out from the ballads, it is a pleasant groove that builds on the solos of Bobby and Renee. Somewhere is reminiscent of Manhattan Moods, that great duo record with McCoy Tyner. Who can help but hum the tune to Jitter Bug Waltz, it is contageous. Renee's solo builds and builds until she becomes the perfect foil for Bobby's solo and the two climb to soaring heights together, ultimately to leave us with that melody. I have always liked Al Foster's playing, especially on Skyline, Bobby's last solo effort, but his cymbal work live on Jitterbug Waltz is outstanding. What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life - the notes land like dew drops - it's as if the song were written for Bobby. Don't Blame Me, like track four, steps away from the ballads and has a great walking bass line. Spring is Here, beautiful. I Wish I Knew makes me wish Bobby would do a samba/bossa type CD, great tempo and cymbal embellishments from Al. Finally, I'll Be Seeing You....Bobby playing with four malletts....exquisite.
Yes I am a fan of Bobby's, his music, his band and particularily, For Sentimental Reasons. His solo releases are like fine wine...better with age and to be savoured.