Bobby Hutcherson recorded frequently for Blue Note in the 1960s, though this session remained unissued until 1999. The first half features the vibraphonist in a cooking hard bop session with Joe Henderson and Duke Pearson, starting with an energetic take on the normally slow ballad “If Ever I Would Leave You” and a sizzling Hutcherson original, “For Duke P.” Guitarist Grant Green is added for the second half, beginning with the first recording of Henderson’s “The Kicker,” which became well known from it’s later rendition on Horace Silver’s highly successful release Song for My Father. Because this is part of Blue Note’s limited-edition Jazz Connoisseur series, don’t delay in picking it up. ~ Ken Dryden, AMG
It’s interesting to note that in the liner notes to Grant Green’s The Matador, described this session as “somewhat disappointing.” Now, Cuscuna has mostly just praise for The Kicker, though he does point out similar to the amazon review that this was a much more straightforward Hutcherson than most of the public was used to.
I’m rather surprised as Hutcherson did play on some avante garde sessions with Eric Dolphy, Andrew Hill, Jackie McLean, and Archie Shepp, but for every avante garde session, there was another like Grant Green’s Idle Moments, or his Streets of Dreams ( with Larry Young and Elvin Jones ). And, Hutcherson recorded several straight ahead sessions himself like 1966 session called Stick-Up! with Billy Higgins. That one is beautiful, straight ahead jazz. And albums like Patterns ( with James Spaulding and Joe Chambers ) are relatively straightforward.
Anyways, The Kicker. The album is great. The same lineup as Grant Green’s Idle Moments ( with Green appearing on only 3/6 tracks ), The Kicker perhaps lacks the intamacy of Idle Moments, but shines much brighter. There are obviously easy comparisons to both. They were recorded with the same personel, a month apart. Songs contributions come from Joe Chambers ( who’s not on the session ), Duke Pearson ( who is ), Joe Henderson ( two here ), and Bobby H ( 1 ), plus a standard to finish it off.
The standard is If Ever I would Leave You, and it’s quite pretty. But it’s the second song, Mirrors, by Joe Chambers that really caught my eye. It’s slow and sensuous, and kind of has that Joe Chambers style to it. It’s interesting to hear it though with Al Harewood on drums. For Duke P. is for Duke Pearson ( though was only named by Hutcherson for this release in 1999 ), is great… medium to up tempo and has some ultra-cool vibes playing. The last three songs each have Green on them which changes the scene a bit. Joe Henderson’s, The Kicker has been recorded by just about everone, and is given a good, standard treatment here. Step Lightly is something pretty like what we would have found on Idle Moments. Bedouin was already familiar to bass player, Bob Cranshaw, and Grant Green as they played it on Green’s The Matador. It’s interesting to hear both versions. Above all, The Kicker is great Bobby H. Like I said, it may not be as great as Idle Moments… though what is? There is some great playing by everyone here. Joe Henderson was really coming to his own, and his tenor sax playing is unique and perfect for this setting. Bobby Hutcherson is always good, whether straight ahead or avante garde. Green rules. And Duke Pearson, Al Harewood, and Bob Cranshaw make for a kickin’ rhythm section. I love Pearson in particular and find his piano playing to be quite subtle and fun to listen to in the mix. Focusing on his playing is great. So get the album. It’s a good one. Especially for one that took 35 years to release! ~ Frank Bock
Bobby Hutcherson ( Vibraphone )
Joe Henderson ( Tenor Saxophone )
Duke Pearson ( Piano )
Bob Cranshaw ( Double Bass )
Al Harewood ( Drums )
Grant Green ( Guitar ) – 4-6
Bobby Hutcherson – The Kicker Tracks:
01 If Ever I Would Leave You ( Alan Jay Lerner/Frederick Loewe ) 10:32
02 Mirrors ( Joe Chambers ) 6:51
03 For Duke P. ( Bobby Hutcherson ) 7:53
04 The Kicker ( Joe Henderson ) 6:05
05 Step Lightly ( Joe Henderson ) 14:17
06 Bedouin ( Duke Pearson ) 8:11
Label: Blue Note ( 1999 )
Total playing: 53:49