JJ 02/92: Bobby Hutcherson – Mirage

Thirty years ago, Graham Colombé thought Tommy Flanagan was galvanised when set in the company of vibist Hutcherson. First published in Jazz Journal February 1992

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Whereas Tommy Flanagan’s recent reunion with Kenny Burrell (Timeless SJP 350) had some of the cosiness of a fireside chat between old friends, the pianist’s first encounter with Bobby Hutcherson has produced an altogether more alert album as Flanagan, predictably, rises to the occasion.

It was the idea of producer Orrin Keepnews to let Hutcherson choose the bassist and drummer, rather than asking the pianist to bring his own usual accompa­nists, and this too contributed to the freshness of the music – and of Flanagan’s playing in particu­lar. (He had gigged before with Washington but never with Drum­mond, an excellent drummer who uses his cymbals on Del Valle with the subtlety of a Connie Kay and is showcased on Cedar Walton’s Groundwork, originally written for Billy Higgins.)

This is a less experimental ses­sion than the Hutcherson date from the sixties reviewed in February last year but, if the 1982 recording with John Lewis (French RCA PL 45729) and this meeting with Flanagan suggest a drifting into the mainstream, Hutcherson remains an individualist for whom the joy and excite­ment of improvisation have clearly not palled. His marimba provides variety on four tracks, including the pensive Love Letters. The other duet, Monk’s Pannonica, is perhaps the outstanding track on an outstanding album.

Discography
(a) Nascimento; Mirage; Beyond The Bluebird; (b) Pannonica; (a) Del Valle; I Am In Love; Zingaro; Groundwork; (b) Love Letters; (a) Heroes (63.43)
(a) Bobby Hutcherson (vib/m); Tommy Flana­gan (p); Peter Washington (b); Billy Drummond (d). NYC, February 15/18, 1991; (b) omit Washington and Drummond.
(Landmark LMK 15292)