Bobby Hutcherson (Jan. 27, 1941 — Aug. 15, 2016) was an American vibraphonist from Los Angeles.
He was born Robert Hutcherson on January 27, 1941, in Los Angeles. His earliest exposure to jazz came from his brother, Teddy, a fan of drummer/bandleader Art Blakey and a friend of saxophonist Dexter Gordon. Hutcherson’s sister, Peggy, sang in Gerald Wilson’s orchestra and rubbed shoulders with saxist Billy Mitchell and multi-reedist Eric Dolphy, who she dated. She introduced all three to her brother, who would later work with Wilson.
Hutcherson took up vibraphone at age 12, inspired by vibist Milt Jackson, particularly his work with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk on the track “Bemsha Swing” (Miles Davis All Stars, Volume 2, 1954). In his late teens, he entered the LA jazz scene as a backing player to saxophonist Charles Lloyd and trumpeter Carmell Jones. He made his first (uncredited) appearance on a 1960 Pacific Jazz 7″ by pianist Les McCann.
In 1961, Hutcherson played on the Pacific Jazz hard-bop release Groovin’ Blue by Curtis Amy and Frank Butler. His involvement with their touring sextet brought him to New York City, where he settled into the Bronx and worked part-time as a taxi driver.
During 1962, Hutcherson played on titles by Billy Mitchell (This Is Billy Mitchell, Smash Records) and Ron Jefferson (Love Lifted Me, Pacific Jazz). His backing stint with trombonist Al Grey yielded the 1962/63 Argo albums Snap Your Fingers, Night Song (both featuring Mitchell), and Having a Ball. As Robert Hutcherson, he played on the track “Jitterbug Waltz” on Dolphy’s 1963 FM release Conversations.
On April 30, 1963, Hutcherson played on his first Blue Note session, One Step Beyond by saxist Jackie McLean (released in 1964). That November, Hutcherson played on the Blue Note classic Idle Moments by guitarist Grant Green (released in 1965).
On December 29, 1963, Hutcherson assembled all the players from Idle Moments — Green, pianist Duke Pearson, tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, double-bassist Bob Cranshaw, and drummer Al Harewood — for his first album as a bandleader, The Kicker (released in 1999). The six-song hard-bop set features two interpretations from outside sources, “If Ever I Would Leave You” (Lerner/Loewe) and “Mirrors” (Joe Chambers), and three Hutcherson originals: “For Duke P,” “The Kicker,” and the 14-minute “Step Lightly.” The set concludes with Pearson’s “Bedouin.” Horace Silver recorded the title-track for his popular 1965 release Song for My Father.
With his album in the vaults, Hutcherson played on 1964 Blue Note releases by drummer Anthony Williams (Life Time), pianist Andrew Hill (Judgment!), trombonist Grachan Moncur III (Evolution), and second titles with Dolphy (Out to Lunch!) and McLean (Destination… Out!), plus the Vanguard release Warming Up! by trumpeter Dave Burns. That year, readers of Down Beat magazine voted him “Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition” in their annual poll.
- Dialogue (1965)
- Components (1966)
- Happenings (1967)
- Stick-Up! (1968)
- Total Eclipse (1969)
- Now! (1970)
- San Francisco (1971)
- Head On (1971)
- Natural Illusions (1972)
- Cirrus (1974)
- Live at Montreux [Cookin’ With Blue Note at Montreux Series] (1974)
- Live at the Festival (Recorded Live at Ljubljana) (1974)
- Linger Lane (1975)
- Montara (1975)
- Waiting (1976)
- The View From the Inside (1977)
- Knucklebean (1977)
- Highway One (1978)
- Oblique [archival] (1979)
- Conception: The Gift of Love (1979)
- Spiral [archival] (1979)
- Inner Glow (1980)
- Medina [archival] (1980)
- Un Poco Loco (1980)
- Patterns [archival] (1980)
- Solo/Quartet (1982)
- Four Seasons (1985)
- Good Bait (1985)
- Color Schemes (1986)
- Cruisin’ the ‘Bird (1988)
- Ambos Mundos (1989)
- Mirage (1991)
- Manhattan Moods (1994 • McCoy Tyner & Bobby Hutcherson)
- Acoustic Masters II (1994 • Bobby Hutcherson, Craig Handy, Lenny White, Jerry Gonzalez)
- Skyline (1999)
- The Kicker [archival] (1999)
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