Bobby Hutcherson, Enjoy the View, Blue Note **** Recommended
he first thing you hear on Enjoy the View is Joey DeFrancesco’s very laidback almost reedy Hammond organ on ‘Delia’, Billy Hart languid as he strokes and fills behind DeFrancesco then David Sanborn sounding very unsmooth, incidentally, as Hutcherson pours on a little salt, and then everyone accompanies the sax player.
It’s a pretty ballad, and Hutcherson eases through the swells of organ DeFrancesco adding some urgency. There are seven tunes on this new album, best heard live although frankly that’s not going to be really very possible given these players’ schedules, a bit of a surprise appearance on Blue Note by the 73-year-old vibes great returning to the label. Hutcherson hasn’t made an album for Blue Note since the 1970s (Knucklebean was the last one in 1977, a rarity not even on CD yet) and he’s the latest label veteran to return to the fold following Wayne Shorter’s example last year. Maybe they can entice Herbie Hancock back, wouldn’t that be something? (Don’t hold your breath.)
The album was recorded at Ocean Way studios in Hollywood but Sanborn hadn’t played with either Hutcherson or Hart before, making this record unique with that freshness that meeting new people and more to the point their playing music together allows. With more than 40 albums to Hutch’s name as a leader or co-leader the LA-born vibist began making records as a leader for Pacific at the dawn of the 1960s and was later, in New York, part of the New Thing with Jackie McLean and Eric Dolphy. He appears on the Dolphy classic Out To Lunch and recorded extensively for Blue Note before changing direction with records of his own such as Head On (‘Hey Harold’ as in old amigo Harold Land, this number later issued as a bonus track on the reissue of that 1971 album in recent years) is the third track here.
Since the 1980s Hutcherson has returned to a more straightahead style. ‘Don Is’ the next track (Don as in Don Was, the album’s producer, and Blue Note boss) a Joey DeFrancesco creation, where Hart’s bombs are well, da bomb, cymbal smashes too, and the quartet really move, Hutcherson reaching up high. ‘Hey Harold' stretches out to just past seven minutes and has more drama well set out by exploratory chords from Hutcherson as if to say where do you want to go from here? And then it’s driving drums and arranged horns that ensue, the added trumpet overdub played by DeFrancesco who often plays the instrument at his own gigs. It might be a little too ponderous however, but ‘Little Flower’ doesn't lack for immediate impact and has less fat this Sanborn tune opening out like a book for Hutcherson to write all over in his first solo, which is very tender, the waves and small explosions of Hart’s rhythmic input keeping the ensemble sound vital.
There’s a lot of love on this record best pinpointed when the tune comes back to the head on ‘Little Flower’ where there’s a real vulnerability that isn’t fake at all. When Hutcherson harmonises with Sanborn it draws out a new dimension that DeFrancesco is then able to react to in his solo before everyone just decides to stop the tune because really everything has been stated and elaborated upon so well.
Towards the end ‘Teddy’ allows DeFrancesco to stretch out and groove, and Hutcherson sounds as if he is enjoying himself on this track Sanborn for once a little more uncomfortable almost trying to be a tenor player here. Imagine hearing Stanley Turrentine, if he was around, blowing on this number.