Bobby Hutcherson, David Sanborn, Joey DeFrancesco featuring Billy Hart – Enjoy the View
(Blue Note 060253 76544 8 2. CD review by Andy Boeckstaens)
Vibraphone master Bobby Hutcherson first recorded for Blue Note Records in 1963. As one of the great survivors from that classic era, it is appropriate that he was asked to lead a session to coincide with the label’s 75th year. “I’ve had a long-term association with the label”, he enthuses. “I’m thrilled to be back here”.
The president of Blue Note Records, Don Was, had the idea for this CD after he heard organist Joey DeFrancesco and saxophone legend David Sanborn at the (unrelated) Blue Note club in New York. “I just sat there and the set was so relaxed and grooving”, he remarks. “I loved what I heard.” As the common link between the participants – and having known Hutcherson for several years – DeFrancesco set the ball rolling by coralling the musicians and writing material for an album.
DeFrancesco created two new pieces: Don Is, a swinging tribute to the Blue Note boss, and You. These, along with Sanborn’s Delia were actually taped at the rehearsal on the day before the official session in Hollywood. The saxophonist says that he chose his tunes (the other is a delicate Little Flower) because “I could hear Bobby playing them. They end up feeling looser and freer than the first time I recorded them.” Sanborn had worked with neither Hutcherson nor drummer Billy Hart before, but it is no surprise that his impassioned cries complement the thoughtfully-crafted work of his colleagues.
Hutcherson brings three compositions along: the rocking Hey Harold; Montara, and the memorable, restless Teddy, yet his instrument is rarely the dominant voice. He modestly observes, “You can’t play over the organ or the saxophone, which have more power, so I play softer…what I play on the vibes always seems to be the cherry on top of the sundae.” Hart recognises that this is more than confectionery, and says of the leader, “He’s a magician and a musician. When he hits the mallets on the vibes, something special happens”. The drummer himself shows customary artistry and sensitivity throughout the date.
Although I’ll be surprised if Enjoy the View becomes a Blue Note classic, Hutcherson’s latest outing is a melodic and enjoyable collaboration. The last words go to Sanborn: “It was like we were having a four-way conversation. When that happens with no egos, everyone talks….that experience was worth everything to me.”