Bobby Hutcherson: Somewhere in the Night

Before Joey DeFrancesco enlisted him for a 2005 album, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson hadn’t recorded with an organist since his glory days with Blue Note, when he teamed with Larry Young on Grant Green’s Street of Dreams and accompanied Big John Patton on his Let ‘Em Roll. In aligning himself with DeFrancesco, today’s reigning champ of the Hammond B3, Hutcherson couldn’t have made a higher-profile return to the format.

With his big and busy sound, DeFrancesco can so dominate Somewhere in the Night, a live album recorded in 2009 at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, you may find yourself wondering who the headliner is and who the guest soloist is. Fans of Hutcherson, who has had to scale down his career as he battles a respiratory condition, may wish for a role reversal. But there are plenty of moments in which the DeFrancesco Trio, including drummer Byron Landham and the ultimate organist’s guitarist in Peter Bernstein, provides a cozy setting for Hutcherson.

He’s a more conservative player now than he was when he introduced one of the two originals presented here, “Little B’s Poem,” on his 1965 postbop landmark, Components. But as demonstrated by his breezy, high-octane introduction to Duke Ellington’s “Take the Coltrane” and his wide-open run through “‘S Wonderful,” Hutcherson can still flat-out play. And flattening his tone to lapidary effect on “My Foolish Heart,” he shows how he can uncover more meaning in a standard through suggestion than many players can at full intensity. His gleaming final notes of the set convey his resilience and continuing relevance.