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For Sentimental Reasons by Bobby Hutcherson

How odd that Bobby Hutcherson, one of the innovators of jazz vibraphone, has not recorded an album as a leader in eight years. One would expect that there always would be everlasting interest in producing Hutcherson’s recordings as he continues to refine his mastery on the instrument.... and as he continues to illuminate recordings with the glowing presence of his vibraphone. Kind Of Blue Records took the common-sensical approach when it was afforded the opportunity to record Hutcherson: It allowed him to choose the music he wanted to record. That would be music of Hutcherson’s reminiscences of what he heard in his youth. In the process of re-creating the music of the past, Hutcherson has included some more recent songs, like "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life," which offer the more relaxed atmosphere characteristic of the majority of the songs on the album. While the music of For Sentimental Reasons certainly differs from the explorative avant-garde work of Eric Dolphy’s ground-breaking Out to Lunch, on which Hutcherson gained much acclaim, the CD provides an opportunity to gain some insight into another facet of Hutcheson’s musical personality.

The vibes carry all of the tracks, even as Hutcherson is backed by top-shelf musicians who have established respected careers of their own. Renee Rosnes, for example, respectfully stays in the background on For Sentimental Reasons, as she helps to brighten Hutcherson’s burnished sound. When she does emerge for a solo, the contribution is always in the moment and consistent with the mood that Hutcherson sets up. On "Embraceable You," for instance, Hutcherson plays the last four bars as a solo introduction before Rosnes provides the spare shimmering chords behind him before Rosnes herself comes in with her own addition to the sense of beauty Hutcherson establishes at the largo tempo. While the songs don’t stay far from their melodic bases, they do contain a few surprises, like the hint of a key change in "For Sentimental Reasons," proving that the songs of Hutcherson’s CD do result from some pre-arranged notation before the mid-track improvisations.

Not all of the songs of For Sentimental Reasons proceed at a romantic ballad’s pace. Fat Waller’s "Jitterbug Waltz" does move at medium tempo, infusing the CD with a sense of fun and actually gains some intensity as the momentum gathers throughout the song. "Don’t Blame Me" moves from a relaxed straight-ahead groove, pushed by Dwayne Burno’s walking bass lines. All the while, Hutcherson shapes the character of the songs with his glassy, comforting sound quite a contract from his work on Dialogue, which he shared with forward-thinking musicians like Andrew Hill and Sam Rivers.

The rhythm section drops out of the final piece, "I’ll Be Seeing You," and Hutcherson plays it solo, obtaining full value from each note as he captures the emotion of the song with concision and grace, the vibrato ringing out after the final note has been played. For Sentimental Reasons presents a gentler Bobby Hutcherson who shows little of the fire but much of the fine attention to the sound of his instrument in evidence in many of his past recordings.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Bobby Hutcherson
  • CD Title: For Sentimental Reasons
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Kind Of Blue
  • Tracks: (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons, Ode To Angela, Embraceable You, Along Came Betty, Somewhere, Jitterbug Waltz, What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life, Don’t Blame Me, Spring Is Here, I Wish I Knew, I’ll Be Seeing You
  • Musicians: Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone), Renee Rosnes (piano), Dwayne Burno (bass), Al Foster (drums)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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