Category Archives: Bobby Hutcherson

Street of Dreams: Grant Green

Street of Dreams Grant Green

If your name is Grant Green, this album has a great cover. Indeed if anyone can direct me to a junction of Down and Withit Streets, a small reward is on offer. Street of Dreams reunites Grant Green with Bobby Hutcherson, who had made a significant contribution to the successful Idle Moments release (which I have yet to write about).

In terms of title, ‘Music for a Siesta’ may possibly have been a more apt choice. The playing on this brief set featuring four relatively short tracks, is faultless but the overall ambience is laid back and it is a sit or lie down and enjoy recording. This is a lineup who play very well together on a well-chosen series of lesser-known tunes. Following the recent passing of Bobby Hutcherson it seemed like a good time to dust this title down and write about it.

Green’s playing on I Wish You love is a an excercise in restrained self assurance. Larry Young also plays in a subdued manner, while Hutcherson contributes variety and interest on vibes.

Lazy Afternoon is perfect music for a hot day. There’s nothing to get the blood racing, just another well-developed set of ideas.

Title track, Street of Dreams features fine interplay between vibes and the Hammond with pyrotechnics from Elvin Jones on drums. There is also some passionate playing from Green when he gets into his solo, indeed it sounds like a great flow of ideas that a student guitar player could do worse than to study if they want to learn how to build excitement on this sort of track. You can listen to it via the following YouTube upload, courtesy of rogerjazzfan:-

Somewhere in the Night is notable for a workmanlike solo from Larry Young but once again there is nothing to raise the temperature.

So there we are. I like Grant Green very much but while Street of Dreams is pleasant enough, it is not a set that I play very often as it is just a little too light with a supper club mainstream feel. You may disagree of course. Idle Moments, recorded 12 months earlier, is a far stronger and more varied set which you may want to investigate first if you are not familiar with this phase of Grant Green’s discography.

The original sleeve notes were penned by that master of the waspish dismissal, Leonard Feather. However, he must have enjoyed Street of Dreams, which he describes as ‘…this gently persuasive set.’

Just for the record, the intersection of Grant and Green is in North Beach, a particularly hip part of San Francisco and the home of cafes, bookshops and clubs frequented by the Beat Generation.

Elvin Jones (9 September 1927 to 18 May 2004) would have celebrated his 89th birthday today (09 September 2016).

The band etc.: Grant Green (guitar); Bobby Hutcherson (vibes); Elvin Jones (drums); Larry Young Organ. Recorded: 16 November 1964. Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Produced: Alfred Lion. Recording: Rudy Van Gelder. Cover photo: Jim Marshall. Cover Design: Reid Miles. Sleeve notes: Leonard Feather. Originally issued as Blue Note BST 84253 in 1966.


Bobby Hutcherson RIP

Vibraphone and Marimba maestro Bobby Hutcherson passed away in mid-August 2016, aged 75.

His New York Times obituary can be accessed here.

There’s an irreverent review of his Happenings set that I wrote a couple of years ago here.

London Jazz Collector has taken a look at Bobby Hutcherson’s records with recent reviews of several of his later releases.

RIP Bobby Hutcherson.


Classic Albums on in 2014


Happy New Year to all visitors, new and old. Here’s my 100th post on downwithit.

I still have an unfinished task from 2014 which is to look back at all the classic sets that I reviewed here in 2014. By classic I mean anything other than a new release so there are one or two sets from the present millennium included here. A quick count indicates that I wrote about 26 of these albums in 2014, so I think I can conclude that I wasn’t idle, especially given that I also wrote about a number of contemporary sets and offered up some live reviews.

What follows may be a bit of a trudge through a list, but I have linked to all the reviews and if any catch your interest, please click and take a look.

On NYD 2014 I started with a bang by taking a look at John Coltrane’s Blue Train, one of my all-time favorites that I urged everyone to obtain and listen to if they hadn’t done so already.

This was followed up by Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder and a track that inspired numerous imitations.

My January postings dipped into dinner jazz in the form of Grover Washington Jr’s All The King’s Horses and British hard bop from the 1980’s UK jazz revival via Tommy Chase and Groove Merchant.

Thoughts of Tommy Chase led into fresh territory and I decided to devote some time to exploring the current scene, which was something that I really enjoyed during the course of 2014. If you want a recap of the newly released albums that I reviewed last year, they can be found here and my trawl of live performances is referred to here. I’m not sure if my ramblings have encouraged the purchase of a single album or attendance at any gigs but if they have, please leave a comment and let me know.

I wrote five reviews in February 2014 opening with Horace Parlan’s piano trio set Movin’ And Groovin’. I followed this up with Johnny Griffin’s Big Soul Band. I wavered about posting on that one because I thought that it was something of a departure from the classic small band context and that it would not fit- but it seemed to be OK and remains a popular review according to my stats.

Fred Jackson’s great Hootin”N Tootin’ was next up. At the time, I checked Wikipedia which did not give a date of death. Hopefully Fred still is with us and is enjoying a peaceful retirement at the grand age of 85 years old. If anybody knows more, please tell us.

A further less well-known Blue Note set, John Jenkins With Kenny Burrell was placed in the spotlight, before I took a look at Thembi by my favourite living saxophonist, Pharoah Sanders.

March 2014 saw me take an overdue look at Yusef Lateef (more to come in 2015) and Jazz Mood, his first set as a leader from 1957. The Cats, a fine session featuring John Coltrane followed and I made my first visit to a Grant Green recording on these pages with Grant’s First Stand.

In April, I brought news a a real gem: Heavy Sounds by Elvin Jones and Richard Davis, another set to listen to even if you have to beg steal or borrow. A slow journey north up the motorway system led me to grapple with Bobby Hutcherson’s Happenings. The same trip north gave me time to take a look at The Hot Club Of San Francisco’s Veronica and I got hold of a copy of Jimmy Smith’s lacklustre a less then incredible Softly As A Summer Breeze.

In May Sonny Clark’s Sonny Clark Trio was followed by another Sonny in the form of Sonny Rollins On Impulse, which sounds like a compilation album but isn’t. Later in the month, my local second-hand record store yielded up a copy of John Coltrane’s Ole.

I took another look at Grant Green with his lesser known Iron City, featuring a strong version of Hi-Heeled Sneakers, before returning to Blue Note and Harold Vick’s Steppin’ Out and later in September with Joe Henderson and Inner Urge.

I took the view that Archie Shepp and Dollar Brand’s Duet was slightly spoiled by Shepp’s poor sax technique on a couple of tracks, but I enjoyed Hank Mobley’s great Roll Call, Grant Green’s Green Street and Freddie Hubbard’s Ready For Freddie.

2014 was the year in which a bit of research yielded some more answers about Freddie Roach’s later years and I shelled out for a first pressing of All That’s Good which turned out to be much better than a shocking review suggested it would be.

I’ve already got a the first few reviews for 2015 in mind, so please come back soon and see what I’ve been listening to and remember that comments are most welcome.

One New Year’s Resolution– the quality of the photography at downwithit must improve. No excuses!


Happenings: Bobby Hutcherson


Bobby Hutcherson made a major contribution to one of my favourite tracks, Joe Henderson’s wonderful Mode For Joe. His vibes solo boosts a strong piece of music into the hyperspace of the outstanding.

This has encouraged me to buy a string of the vibraphonist’s recordings as leader in the hope that they might contain music that captivates me to the same extent. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard anything that hits the spot in the same way- but every so often I revisit Bobby’s albums to see if I’m missing something.

The root of my difficulty is partly that Hutcherson is probably a bit too complex and avant-garde in his repertoire for my taste. Then, there’s the timbre of the vibraphone, which can introduce a somewhat cool metallic quality to a piece- perhaps because playing the vibes involves banging a piece of metal. Still, I’ll persevere and a long solo Good Friday car journey offered another opportunity.

So another Good Friday without my favourite football team still offered up a contest- could Happenings compete with and defeat the sights of Birmingham, as seen from the M6? The Blue Note gang would be represented by the Crips and Bloods, Birmingham by the Peaky Blinders!

First up, Aquarian Moon, starting as a distant Birmingham skyline comes into sight on my approach from the south. The track has an air of expectancy and excitement and fits with my delight at reaching a significant landmark on a long slow journey. OK, so the Birmingham skyline palls by comparison to New York or even locally to Liverpool’s Three Graces but the tune holds its own. It’s still an early draw in the battle for my attention.

Bouquet is quiet and reflective but it is up against the architectural brutalism of Fort Dunlop. Midway through the first half and Birmingham strikes. One nil to the City of Birmingham!

Rojo has a bit of Latin life stirring and manages to see off Spaghetti Junction and Villa Park (despite a few good visits there to semi-finals back in the pre- New Wembley FA Cup days). Bobby, as fine a striker as you would expect a man with multiple mallets to be, has equalised and it is one all- with everything to play for. A YouTube clip follows:

Click or touch the arrow to play.

Maiden Voyage is up against the climb to the Perry Bar interchange. Both bore me and one is seriously over-rated in my opinion. At one all, we are stuck, veering towards a tedious stalemate.

Head Start plays as I drive down the hill. It is up against mid-table opposition from a distant IKEA and the life and optimism of the music wins through by a narrow margin to find the net. The deadlock is broken. Two-one to the boy from Blue Note!

Well into the second half and Hutcherson’s underwhelming ballad When You Are Near just does enough in defence against a distant Brownhills and motorway signs informing me of long delays through Staffordshire.

Into the last seven minutes of the match with Hutcherson holding a narrow advantage. However, the crash bang percussive avant-gardism of The Omen annoys the referee (me). Metropolitan Birmingham get a late penalty. Hilton Park Services steps up to wrong foot Hutcherson who clearly has his mind on other things.

So there you have it. The game for my attention between Bobby Hutcherson and the Bank Holiday drag along the M6 ends up in an uninspiring score draw (two all).

I will have one more go with Bobby Hutcherson when I can get hold of a fairly priced copy of The Kicker, which can be a little hard to find. In the meantime, I can’t speak too highly of Hutcherson’s contribution to Mode For Joe and he is excellent on Grant Green’s Idle Moments too. However, if you are unfamiliar with his work, he may be a better squad player than an automatic selection for your collection. He is still going strong as a performer, currently working with David Sanborn and Joey DeFrancesco and, if I’m not mistaken, may be joining them for a late summer gig at Ronnie Scott’s. If I go, it had better be incognito for fear of my flippancy being rewarded with a sharp rap on the napper with a vibes mallet. The Reid Miles cover photo and design is great, by the way.

The band etc: Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone and marimbas); Herbie Hancock (piano); Bob Cranshaw (bass); Joe Chambers (drums). Recorded: 8 February 1966. Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Produced: Rudy Van Gelder. Sleeve Notes: Leonard Feather. Cover photos and design: Reid Miles. Issued as Blue Note 84231.