Bobby Hutcherson (born January 27, 1941 in Los Angeles)[1][2] is a jazz vibraphone and marimba player. His vibraphone playing is suggestive of the style of Milt Jackson in its free-flowing melodicism, but his sense of harmony and group interaction is thoroughly modern. Hutcherson has influenced younger vibraphonists including Steve Nelson,[3] Joe Locke[4][5] and Stefon Harris.[6]

"Little B's Poem" (from the album Components) is one of his best-known compositions.[6][7]

Contents Edit


  • 1 Biography
    • 1.1 Early life and career
    • 1.2 Blue Note records
    • 1.3 Return to West Coast
    • 1.4 Recent developments
  • 2 Acting career
  • 3 Personal life
  • 4 Style and critical reception
  • 5 Discography
    • 5.1 As Leader
    • 5.2 As sideman
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

Biography[edit] Edit

Early life and career[edit] Edit

Bobby Hutcherson was born to Eli, a master mason, and Esther, a hairdresser.[6] Hutcherson was exposed to jazz by his brother Teddy, who listened to Art Blakey records in the family home with his friend Dexter Gordon, while his older sister Peggy was a singer in Gerald Wilson's orchestra, who personally introduced Hutcherson to Eric Dolphy (her boyfriend at the time) and Billy Mitchell.[8]Hutcherson was inspired to take up the vibraphone when he heard Milt Jackson play "Bemsha Swing" on the Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants LP at the age of 12.[6][8] Still in his teens, Hutcherson began his professional career in the late fifties working with Curtis Amy and Carmell Jones,[9] as well as with Dolphy and Charles Lloyd at Pandora's Box on the Sunset Strip.[6][8] He made his recording debut on August 3, 1960, cutting two songs for a 7-inch single with the Les McCann trio for Pacific Jazz (released 1961),[9][10] followed by the LP Groovin' Blue with the Curtis Amy-Frank Butler sextet on December 10 (also released by Pacific Jazz in 1961).[10] In January 1962, Hutcherson joined the Billy Mitchell-Al Grey group[9] for dates at The Jazz Workshop in San Francisco and Birdland in New York City (opposite Art Blakey).[8] After touring with the Mitchell-Grey group for a year,[9] Hutcherson settled in New York City (on 165th street in The Bronx) where he worked part-time as a taxi driver, before fully entering the jazz scene via his childhood friend, bassist Herbie Lewis.[8]

Blue Note records[edit] Edit

Lewis was working with The Jazztet and hosted jam sessions at his apartment. After hearing Hutcherson play at one of Lewis' events, Jazztet and Jackie McLean band member Grachan Moncur III felt that Hutcherson would be a good fit for McLean's group, which led to Hutcherson's first recording for Blue Note Records on April 30, 1963, McLean's classic One Step Beyond.[8] This was quickly followed by sessions for Blue Note with Moncur, Dolphy, Gordon, Andrew Hill, Tony Williams and Grant Green in 1963 and 1964, later followed by sessions with Joe Henderson, John Patton, Duke Pearson and Lee Morgan.[9] In spite of the numerous post-bop, avant-garde, and free jazz recordings made during this period, Hutcherson's first session for Blue Note as leader, The Kicker (recorded in 1963 but not released until 1999), demonstrated his background in hard bop and the blues, as did Idle Moments with Grant Green.[2] Many of his later recordings returned to this more mainstream, hard bop sound.[2] He won the "Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition" award in the 1964 Down Beat readers' poll,[11] and Blue Note released Hutcherson's official entry as leader, Dialogue, to the public in 1965. The 1966 record Stick-Up!, featuring Joe Henderson, Herbie Lewis, and Billy Higgins, was notable, being the first of many recorded sessions Hutcherson made with McCoy Tyner throughout their lives,[2] as well as the only album out of ten Hutcherson recorded as leader for Blue Note between 1965 and 1969 which did not feature drummer Joe Chambers or any of Chambers' compositions.[9] Spanning the years 1963 to 1977, Hutcherson had one of the longest recording careers with Blue Note, second only to Horace Silver's.[1]

Return to West Coast[edit] Edit

Hutcherson lost his cabaret card and taxi driver's license in 1967 after he and Joe Chambers were arrested on a drug violation in Central Park, so he moved back to California, but continued to record for Blue Note.[8] This return to the West Coast resulted in an important partnership with Harold Land, with whom Hutcherson recorded seven albums for Blue Note, featuring a rotating lineup of pianists such as Chick Corea, Stanley Cowell, and Joe Sample, and usually Chambers on drums. The Hutcherson-Land group broke up in 1971,[2] and that same year Hutcherson won the title of "World's Best Vibist" in the International Jazz Critics Poll.[11] After releasing Knucklebean in 1977, Hutcherson went on to record three albums for Columbia Records in the late 1970s. Land and Hutcherson reunited in the early 1980s for several recordings as the "Timeless All Stars," a sextet featuring Curtis Fuller, Cedar Walton, Buster Williams, and Billy Higgins which recorded four albums for the Dutch label Timeless Records.[1] After switching between several labels in the early 1980s for his solo material, Hutcherson recorded eight albums for Landmark Records from the 1980s into the early 1990s. He continued to work steadily as a sideman during this time, for artists such as Freddie Hubbard, Donald Byrd, Woody Shaw, Eddie Henderson, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt, Pharoah Sanders, Chico Freeman, Frank Morgan, Barney Kessel, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, John Lewis, Cedar Walton, Joe Sample, John Hicks, George Cables, Kenny Barron, Roy Haynes, and Tony Williams, among others. His recorded output slowed somewhat during the past few decades, although he did release albums for Atlantic and Verve in the 1990s, three for the Swiss-based label Kind of Blue in the 21st century, and continued to tour.

Recent developments[edit] Edit

In 2004, Hutcherson became an inaugural member of the SFJAZZ Collective, featuring Joshua Redman, Miguel Zenón, Nicholas Payton, Renee Rosnes, and Eric Harland, among others. He toured with them for four years, and made an appearance at the SFJAZZ Center's grand opening in 2013.[8] His 2007 quartet included Renee Rosnes on piano, Dwayne Burno on bass and Al Foster on drums. His 2008 quartet included Joe Gilman on piano, Glenn Richman on bass andEddie Marshall on drums. In 2010 he received the lifetime Jazz Master Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts,[12] and performed at Birdland in a quintet featuring Gilman, Burno, Marshall, and Peter Bernstein. 2014 saw Hutcherson return to Blue Note Records with Enjoy the View, recorded at Ocean Way Studios in Hollywood with Joey DeFrancesco, David Sanborn, and Billy Hart.[13] The quartet performed four sold-out shows at the SFJAZZ Center in February, prior to the album's release.[13]

Acting career[edit] Edit

Hutcherson's brief acting career included an appearance as the bandleader in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969), and as Ace in Round Midnight (1986).[14]

Personal life[edit] Edit

Hutcherson has a son, Barry, from his first marriage to Beth Buford.[6] Hutcherson wrote the waltz "Little B's Poem" for Barry in 1962.[6] Due to the success of "Ummh" from the album San Francisco, one of Hutcherson's few entries in the jazz fusion style,[2] he was able to buy an acre of land in Montara, California in 1972, where he built a house that he still lives in.[8] That same year he was married to Rosemary Zuniga, a ticket taker at the Both/And club in San Francisco.[5] Bobby and Rosemary went on to have a son named Teddy, who is now a production manager for SFJAZZ.[6] Hutcherson attended an African Methodist Episcopal Church as a youth and converted to Catholicism later in life.[6]

Style and critical reception[edit] Edit

AllMusic contributor Steve Huey stated that Hutcherson's "free-ringing, open chords and harmonically advanced solos were an important part of Dolphy's 1964 masterwork Out to Lunch!," and called Dialogue a "classic of modernist post-bop," declaring Hutcherson "one of jazz's greatest vibraphonists." Huey went on to say: "along with Gary Burton, the other seminal vibraphone talent of the '60s, Hutcherson helped modernize his instrument by redefining what could be done with it – sonically, technically, melodically, and emotionally. In the process, he became one of the defining (if underappreciated) voices in the so-called "new thing" portion of Blue Note's glorious '60s roster."[2]

In his liner notes to the 1980 release of Medina, record producer Richard Seidel (Verve, Sony Masterworks) wrote that "of all the vibists to appear on the scene contemporaneous with Hutcherson, none have been able to combine the rhythmic dexterity, emotive attack and versatile musical interests that Bobby possesses."[15] Seidel concurred that Hutcherson was "part of the vanguard of the new jazz developments in the Sixties. He contributed mightily to several of the key sessions that document these developments."[15]

Interviewed by Jesse Hamlin for a piece on Hutcherson in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2012, collaborator Joshua Redman said that "We talk a lot about how music expresses universal values, experiences and feelings. But you don't often witness that so clearly and so profoundly as you do with Bobby. His music expresses the joy of living. He connects to the source of what music is about."[6]

In an April 2013 profile for Down Beat magazine, Dan Ouellette wrote that "Hutcherson took the vibes to a new level of jazz sophistication with his harmonic inventions and his blurring-fast, four-mallet runs... Today, he's the standard bearer of the instrument and has a plenitude of emulators to prove it."[8] Ouellette quoted Joey DeFrancesco as saying "Bobby is the greatest vibes player of all time... Milt Jackson was the guy, but Bobby took it to the next level. It's like Milt was Charlie Parker, and Bobby was John Coltrane."

Discography[edit] Edit

Hutcherson performing at the Berkeley Jazz Festival in 1982

As Leader[edit] Edit

Blue Note

  • 1963 The Kicker
  • 1965 Dialogue
  • 1965 Components
  • 1966 Happenings
  • 1966 Stick-Up!
  • 1967 Oblique
  • 1968 Patterns
  • 1968 Total Eclipse
  • 1968 Spiral
  • 1969 Medina
  • 1969 Now!
  • 1970 San Francisco
  • 1971 Head On
  • 1972 Natural Illusions
  • 1973 Bobby Hutcherson Live at Montreux
  • 1974 Cirrus
  • 1974 Linger Lane
  • 1975 Inner Glow
  • 1975 Montara
  • 1976 The View from the Inside
  • 1976 Waiting
  • 1977 Knucklebean
  • 2014 Enjoy the View
Columbia Records
  • 1978 Highway One
  • 1979 Conception: The Gift of Love
  • 1979 Un Poco Loco

Landmark Records

  • 1984 Good Bait
  • 1985 Color Schemes
  • 1985 It Ain't Easy
  • 1987 In the Vanguard
  • 1988 Cruisin' The Bird
  • 1989 Ambos Mundos
  • 1991 Mirage
  • 1992 Landmark


  • 1969 Blow Up (Jazz Music Yesterday)
  • 1982 Solo / Quartet (Contemporary)
  • 1982 Farewell Keystone (Theresa Records)
  • 1983 Four Seasons (Timeless)
  • 1993 Acoustic Masters II (Atlantic)
  • 1999 Skyline (Verve)
  • 1999 Little B's Poem (E.J.'s Records) recorded live 1980
  • 2007 For Sentimental Reasons (Kind of Blue)
  • 2009 Wise One (Kind of Blue)
  • 2012 Somewhere in the Night (Kind of Blue)

As sideman[edit] Edit

With Curtis Amy & Frank Butler

  • Groovin' Blue (Pacific Jazz, 1961)

With The Aquarians

  • Jungle Grass (Uni, 1969)

With Kenny Barron

  • Other Places (Verve, 1993)

With Bayete

  • Worlds Around the Sun (Prestige, 1972)

With Dave Burns

  • Warming Up (Vanguard, 1962)

With Donald Byrd

  • Ethiopian Knights (Blue Note, 1971)
  • A City Called Heaven (Landmark, 1991)

With George Cables

  • Cables' Vision (Contemporary, 1979)

With Stanley Cowell

  • Brilliant Circles (Freedom Records, 1969)

With Joey DeFrancesco

  • Organic Vibes (Concord, 2006)

With Smith Dobson

  • Sasha Bossa (Quartet, 1988)

With Eric Dolphy

  • Iron Man (Douglas, 1963)
  • Conversations (Fred Miles, 1963)
  • Out to Lunch (Blue Note, 1964)

With Bruce Forman

  • Full Circle (Concord, 1984)
  • There are Times (Concord, 1987)

With Chico Freeman

  • Destiny's Dance (Contemporary, 1981)

With Kenny Garrett

  • Happy People (Warner Bros., 2001)
  • Beyond the Wall (Nonesuch, 2006)

With Luis Gasca

  • Collage (Fantasy, 1975)

With Dexter Gordon

  • Gettin' Around (Blue Note, 1964)
  • Sophisticated Giant (Columbia, 1977)
  • The Other Side of Round Midnight (Blue Note, 1985)

With Grant Green

  • Idle Moments (Blue Note, 1964)
  • Street of Dreams (Blue Note, 1964)

With Al Grey

  • Snap Your Fingers (Argo, 1962)
  • Having a Ball (Argo, 1963)
  • Night Song (Argo, 1962)

With Herbie Hancock

  • Round Midnight (Columbia, 1985)

With John Handy

  • New View (Columbia, 1967)

With Roy Haynes

  • Thank You Thank You (Galaxy, 1977)

With Eddie Henderson

  • Sunburst (Blue Note, 1975)

With Joe Henderson

  • Mode for Joe (Blue Note, 1966)

With John Hicks

  • John Hicks (Theresa, 1984)
  • In Concert (Theresa, 1984 [1986])

With Andrew Hill

  • Judgment! (Blue Note, 1963)
  • Andrew!!! (Blue Note, 1964)
  • Eternal Spirit (Blue Note, 1989)

With Stix Hooper

  • The World Within (MCA, 1979)

With Freddie Hubbard

  • Keystone Bop Vol. 2: Friday & Saturday (Prestige, 1981 [1996])
  • Keystone Bop: Sunday Night (Prestige, 1981)

With Ron Jefferson

  • Love Lifted Me (Pacific Jazz, 1962)

With Osamu Kitajima

  • Masterless Samurai (Headfirst, 1979)

With Barney Kessel

  • Feeling Free (Contemporary, 1969)
  • Red Hot and Blues (Contemporary, 1988)

With Harold Land

  • The Peace-Maker (Cadet, 1967)
  • A New Shade of Blue (Mainstream, 1971)
  • Choma (Mainstream, 1971)
  • Xocia's Dance (Sue-sha's Dance) (Muse, 1981)

With Prince Lasha & Sonny Simmons

  • Firebirds (Contemporary, 1968)
With John Lewis
  • Slavic Smile (Baystate, 1982)

With Abbey Lincoln

  • Wholly Earth (Verve, 1998)

With Eddie Marshall

  • Dance of the Sun (Timeless, 1977)

With Les McCann

  • Oat Meal b/w One More Ham Hock Please (Pacific Jazz, 1961) 7" single

With Jackie McLean

  • One Step Beyond (Blue Note, 1963)
  • Destination... Out! (Blue Note, 1964)
  • Action Action Action (Blue Note, 1964)

With Billy Mitchell

  • This Is Billy Mitchell (Smash, 1962)

With Grachan Moncur III

  • Evolution (Blue Note, 1963)

With Frank Morgan

  • Reflections (Contemporary, 1988)

With Lee Morgan

  • The Procrastinator (Blue Note, 1967)

With Grassella Oliphant

  • The Grass Roots (Atlantic, 1965)

With John Patton

  • Let 'em Roll (Blue Note, 1965)

With Duke Pearson

  • The Phantom (Blue Note, 1968)
  • I Don't Care Who Knows It (Blue Note, 1969)

With Lou Rawls

  • At Last (Blue Note, 1989)

With Dianne Reeves

  • I Remember (Blue Note, 1988)

With Sonny Rollins

  • No Problem (Milestone, 1981)

With Ted Rosenthal

  • Calling You (CTI, 1992)

With Joe Sample

  • Roles (MCA, 1987)

With Pharoah Sanders

  • Rejoice (Theresa, 1981)

With SFJAZZ Collective

  • Live 2004 Inaugural Concert Tour (SFJazz, 2004)
  • Live 2005 2nd Annual Concert Tour (SFJazz, 2005)
  • SFJAZZ Collective (Nonesuch, 2005) recorded 2004
  • SFJAZZ Collective 2 (Nonesuch, 2006) recorded 2005
  • Live 2006 3rd Annual Concert Tour (SFJazz, 2006)
  • Live 2007 4th Annual Concert Tour (SFJazz, 2007)

With Woody Shaw

  • Master of the Art (Elektra/Musician, 1982)
  • Night Music (Elektra/Musician, 1982)

With Archie Shepp

  • On This Night (Impulse!, 1965)
  • New Thing at Newport (Impulse!, 1965)

With Sonny Stitt

  • Just in Case You Forgot How Bad He Really Was (32 Jazz, 1981)

With Timeless All Stars

  • It's Timeless (Timeless, 1982) recorded live at Keystone Korner
  • Timeless Heart (Timeless, 1983)
  • Essence (Delos, 1986)
  • Time for the Timeless All Stars (Early Bird, 1991)

With McCoy Tyner

  • Time for Tyner (Blue Note, 1967)
  • Sama Layuca (Milestone, 1974)
  • Together (Milestone, 1978)
  • Quartets 4 X 4 (Milestone, 1980)
  • La Leyenda de La Hora (Columbia, 1981)
  • Manhattan Moods (Blue Note, 1993)
  • Land of Giants (Telarc, 2003)

With Harold Vick

  • The Caribbean Suite (RCA Victor, 1966)

With Larry Vuckovich

  • Blue Balkan (Inner City, 1980)

With Cedar Walton

  • Among Friends (Theresa, 1982 [1989])

With Paula West

  • Come What May (Hi Horse, 2001)

With Tony Williams

  • Life Time (Blue Note, 1964)
  • Foreign Intrigue (Capitol, 1985)

With Gerald Wilson

  • Everywhere (Pacific Jazz, 1968)
  • California Soul (World Pacific, 1968)
  • Eternal Equinox (World Pacific, 1969)