A Musical Celebration of Bobby Hutcherson Sat., Jan 28th 1 to 4:30PM at Saint Peter's Church

(January 27, 1941 August 15, 2016)

1:00pm - 4:30pm

"Eric Dolphy said music is like the wind. You don't know where it came from and you don't know where it went. You can't control it. All you can do is get inside the sphere of it and be swept away."






+ many others will join a multi-generational celebration of the music & life
of the great Bobby Hutcherson

Produced by Todd Barkan & Michael Cuscuna

Jazz giant Bobby Hutcherson dies at 75

By Jesse Hamlin
Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, one of jazz's greatest improvisers and a deep, sweet-souled musician who played with enormous feeling, fire and grace, died Monday, Aug. 15, at his home in Montara on the San Mateo County coast. He was 75 and had battled emphysema for many years.
Over his prolific 55-year career, Mr. Hutcherson, a 2010 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, performed and recorded with many of the greatest jazz artists of his time, including tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins, pianists Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner and Cedar Walton, and drummer Billy Higgins.

Mr. Hutcherson produced a singularly beautiful sound on the vibraphone, a resonating metal-and-wood percussion instrument used mostly for novelty effect until jazz musicians like Lionel Hampton made it swing in the 1930s. The lyrical bebopper Milt Jackson made it sing with a richness, warmth and grit that inspired a kid from Pasadena to take up the vibraphone and expand its expressive range.

Mr. Hutcherson came of age in the tumultuous 1960s, playing vital, original music with Hancock and Tyner with both of whom he continued to make memorable music over the decades trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, the avant-garde reed man Eric Dolphy and other brilliant young players and composers associated with Blue Note records.

A master of harmony who could accompany like a pianist with a pair of red-tipped mallets in each hand and fly high as a soloist, Mr. Hutcherson struck those metal bars in a way that made them ring with uncommon intensity and tenderness earthy and celestial.

He unleashed joyously unbounded solos shaped on the fly with long ribbons of melody, bluesy ostinatos and the declamatory single tones he hammered out with a slicing body English that made them shimmer and swell.

He could also play ballads sublimely, the way he does with "I Loves You Porgy" on his 1994 duet recording with Tyner, "Manhattan Moods, " by sounding the melody with little or no embellishment.

"I've always loved playing with Bobby, " Rollins said in a 2012 Chronicle article. "He's a consummate musician and extremely gifted in jazz improvisation. It's always been fun, enlightening and intellectually challenging playing with Bobby, and always emotional as well."

Known for his sly wit and lack of guile, Mr. Hutcherson was "a very honest person, " Rollins went on, "like (Thelonious) Monk was. Bobby couldn't play the way he did without that honesty."
Mr. Hutcherson was born in Pasadena and grew up in its vibrant African American community. His father, Eli, was a master mason he crafted the big fireplace in the cozy Montara home Mr. Hutcherson built with royalties from his funky 1970 hit "Ummh" and his mother, Esther, a hairdresser.

His sister Peggy was a singer who did a stint as a Ray Charles Raylette. His older brother Teddy was a bricklaying jazz fan who listened to records with his buddy Dexter Gordon, the virile saxophonist with whom Bobby would later record, and with whom he acted in Bernard Tavernier's 1986 film "'Round Midnight" (Mr. Hutcherson first appeared onscreen in 1969 as the bandleader in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?").
Mr. Hutcherson, who'd played some piano and absorbed the music at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, found his calling one summer day in 1955 as he strolled down Pasadena's Lincoln Avenue and heard the sound of Milt Jackson's grooving vibes wafting from a record shop. He bought the album, "Miles Davis All Stars, Vol. 2, " and wore it out.

"The way Milt played made me feel like I had money in my pocket, " Mr. Hutcherson recalled in 2012. "It was so satisfying. The sound was warm and round. I'd heard Lionel Hampton and Red Norvo before, but Milt really spoke to me. He played those long lines, and it was very soulful, very talking-to-you. I thought I could duplicate that. It took me a long time to realize that those are Milt's cookies, leave 'em alone."
Mr. Hutcherson, who in high school jammed with smart young L.A. musicians like Dolphy and saxophonist Charles Lloyd, baked his own cookies after moving to New York in the early '60s. He drove a cab to support himself, his first wife, Beth Buford their interracial romance had stirred some friction in Pasadena and their infant son, Barry, for whom Mr. Hutcherson wrote the classic jazz waltz "Little B's Poem."
He connected with other creative musicians who were expanding the language of jazz, performing as a sideman and leader on a batch of classic Blue Note recordings, including Dolphy's wild "Out to Lunch, " Grant Green's bluesy "Idle Moments" and Hutcherson keepers like 1966's "Happenings, " which includes spellbinding performances of Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" and Mr. Hutcherson's "Bouquet" (Hancock, who's on piano, joined Mr. Hutcherson and bassist Ron Carter in 1985 to reprise "Bouquet" in a splendid live performance available on YouTube).

After a pot bust, Mr. Hutcherson, who quit dope and drinking two decades ago, lost his New York cabaret card and taxi license. He moved back to Los Angeles, forming a band with saxophonistHarold Land and later settling in San Francisco, where a friend had opened the Both/And club. He fell in love with the woman taking tickets, Rosemary Zuniga, who became his second wife.

An international star and pride of the Bay Area jazz world, Mr. Hutcherson found respite from the road in Montara, where he grew dahlias and tulips and hung out with family and friends such as the late, great San Francisco drummer Eddie Marshall. He could be counted on to perform at benefits for musicians in need, playing with the same passion whatever the occasion.

"Bobby can play one note and generate 10 times more energy than someone who would play 50 notes in that space, " Stefon Harris, one of many vibraphonists inspired by Mr. Hutcherson and the one who followed him in the SFJazz Collective, said in 2012.

"He took this pile of metal and wood and really turned it into a vehicle to express his individuality. He transcended the instrument."

The celebrated saxophonist Joshua Redman played with Mr. Hutcherson in the Collective's first incarnation in 2004.

"We talk a lot about how music expresses universal values, experiences and feelings. But you don't often witness that so clearly and so profoundly as you do with Bobby, " Redman said in 2012. "His music expresses the joy of living. He connects to the source of what music is about."

Sitting in his sun-dappled yard one afternoon, Mr. Hutcherson put it this way:

"Eric Dolphy said music is like the wind. You don't know where it came from and you don't know where it went. You can't control it. All you can do is get inside the sphere of it and be swept away."
Besides his wife, Mr. Hutcherson is survived by sons Teddy of Montara and Barry of Half Moon Bay, and two grandchildren.

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