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Bobby Hutcherson Dies at 75

Vibes legend helped define the pre-fusion 1960s on Blue Note

Bobby Hutcherson (left) and drummer Billy Hart at thr SFJAZZ Center, 2014
Joey DeFrancesco, Bobby Hutcherson, David Sanborn and Billy Hart, 2014
Bobby Hutcherson recording for Blue Note Records, June 1965

Bobby Hutcherson, one of the most important vibraphonists in jazz history, and a musician-composer who helped define the more interactive and exploratory nature of postbop in the 1960s, died at his home in Montara, Calif., on Aug. 15, after a long battle with emphysema, according to a representative of his family.

With peers like saxophonists Eric Dolphy and Jackie McLean, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, pianist Andrew Hill and drummer Joe Chambers, Hutcherson was essential to the loosening of bop and hard-bop tropes that occurred during the early and mid-1960s, appearing on and composing for a series of canonical albums, most released via the Blue Note label. On two of his essential early leader recordings, 1965’s Dialogue and Components, one can hear the burgeoning avant-garde influencing fantastic bop-based musicianship: the artful expansion of blues, Latin and other familiar forms; the more communicative and egalitarian group dynamic; the willingness to leave harmonic and melodic tension unresolved.

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