Bobby Hutcherson, Jazz Vibraphonist Who Bridged Bop and the Avant-Garde

The Bobby Hutcherson Quartet “Delilah”–Video

Mention the vibes, and Lionel Hampton is the first name that may come to mind. But it was Bobby Hutcherson, perhaps more than any other vibes player, who stretched the range of the instrument, using it to create more tones, more moods.

Of his nearly 40 albums in The All Music Guide to Jazz, five receive top, five-star ratings. Components, his 1966 release on Blue Note is among them and is also included in Tom Moon’s 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. “Tranquility,” a track on the album, has over 3 million streams on Spotify, a high volume for a jazz track and a sign of the artist’s enduring appeal.

Hutcherson (January 27, 1941-August 15, 2016) recorded many albums on the Blue Note label between 1965 and 1977, and Component features frequent collaborators: Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, Freddy Hubbard on trumpet, James Spaulding on alto sax and flute and Joe Chambers on drums. Hutcherson composed the tracks on Side 1, which are mainly done in the hard bop style. Chambers is responsible for the arrangements on Side 2, which go in a more experimental direction. “Little B’s Poem,” which I provide a link to below, is a tribute to his then 3-year-old son.

“Little B’s Poem” on Spotify