Bobby Hutcherson

For Sentimental Reasons

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This is Bobby Hutcherson's self-proclaimed "love" album, clearly a project he has wanted to do for some time. As prolific a jazz artist as there ever was in the '60s and '70s, the legendary vibraphonist's recording career has slowed to a crawl, with very few items added to his catalog in the past three decades. So this is one to savor, particularly with a significant other, drenched in romantic notions as the title suggests, comprising standard ballad material, save a few less serene personal favorites. With pianist Renee Rosnes, Hutcherson has chosen a sensitive partner to walk slowly, hand in hand, through picturesque fields of flowers, while younger bassist Dwayne Burno walks the line lightly, and veteran drummer Al Foster employs brushes more than drumsticks to get this aged and mellow message across. Among the off-the-beaten path offerings; Hutch plays his old partner Harold Land's "Ode to Angela" in refracted Asiatic and Latin lights, with beautiful harmonies from Rosnes. There's a modified, easy swinging take of Benny Golson's "Along Came Betty," the slow to sprightly "Jitterbug Waltz" with a tad more energy, the upbeat bossa nova take of "I Wish I Knew," and a straight, simple read of "Don't Blame Me." The rest of the program is in ballad style, ranging from the tone-setting title track, a pristine, deeply passionate, patient piano/vibes duet for Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's "Somewhere," a version of "Spring Is Here" sans Foster, and Hutcherson's solo vibes taking control of "I'll Be Seeing You." Included is a spare version of "Embraceable You" where a muffled sound from Hutch turns the lamp way down low. Clearly as he gets older (65 at the time) the calmer side of this great musician has taken hold of his soul, far removed for the firebrand progressive he was in earlier days. He's changed in focus -- we all do -- so expectations should be different, but the brilliant musicianship Bobby Hutcherson has always displayed is quite the same, and still ever present.

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