3 July 2006
BOBBY HUTCHERSON - PATTERNS
No one ever did it better than the premier vibeist in the Blue Note stable, the great Bobby Hutcherson. From his earliest days in LA with Curtis Amy, - through the very productive years in NY with Blue Note as both a leader, a sideman (with almost all the great Blue Noters) and for years as a co-leader with the brilliant tenor man Harold Land, - Hutcherson was (and is) the heir to the instrument so ably caressed by Milt Jackson and Red Norvo. In his large and impressive catalogue, few albums come close to 'Patterns'. Recorded in 1968, 'Patterns' languished in the Blue Note vaults until 1980, which like any such sessions is amazing, since it meets, and exceeds the quality of the best Blue Note sessions
Featuring drummer/composer Joe Chambers - one of the most frequent and productive collaborators that Hutcherson ever had - criminally underrated alto/flute switch-hitter James Spaulding, pianist Stanley Cowell and Coltrane sideman Reggie Workman on bass, the high quality of the playing on "Patterns" is equaled by the writing (with four cuts by Chambers and one each by Cowell and Spaulding).
One of the highlights here is the Chambers composition 'Ankara'. This performance features the vibes and alto playing a unison line, and manages to build some real intensity on a very mellow base. Hutcherson's solo, characteristically light on the vibrato is one of his best, up there with his immaculate version of Herbie Hancock's 'Blow Up'. The surprise here is Spaulding. Coming out of a quiet, hypnotic base, the alto rises into a cutting, bittersweet solo, that at once makes the listener wonder how this great player never rated his own sessions at Blue Note.
Other nighlights are Joe Chambers' Satie-like 'Nocturnal' which is perfect for Hutcherson's vibes and Cowell's modal beauty 'Effi' which was a track that became a feature with other bands led by Charles Tolliver and Max Roach of which Cowell was part of.