New York City is the jazz capital of the world and Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in Jazz at Lincoln Center is one of the music’s greatest venues. On October 10, 2009, over the course of two sold-out sets, legendary vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson recorded what would become Somewhere in the Night. The album, which is being released on Kind of Blue Records on Sept. 25, 2012, also features the Joey DeFrancesco Trio — guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Byron Landham as well as its organist namesake.
Of the organist, Hutcherson says in a news release, “One thing about Joey, he knows how to play. He doesn’t play at the same volume all the time. He can play very soft and then he can increase his volume a lot. Because of that, he’s very aware of what volume to play with the vibraphone. Even while he’s soloing, he plays at different volumes. It makes it really good, you know.”
He continues, “Although he’s full of ideas, he never gets in the way because he sure is very good at tempo. And I don’t mean tempo as speed … I mean tempo as being able to understand what he’s playing at any speed, you know, the tempo of life. He paces his notes, so they don’t come out cluttered. He understands how to deliver a certain thing, and that’s an important thing to do.”
Somewhere in the Night manages to capture the live energy of a band in top form. The opening track “Teddy”, written for Hutcherson’s youngest son, sees the vibes master build a mammoth improvisation that builds in intensity and tempo, while “Little B’s Poem”, written for Hutcherson’s oldest son and the composer’s most famous work, is given new life nearly fifty years later by rephrasing the melody into a vamp that leads into a spectacular group improv.
Hutcherson pays tribute to his late mentor, Milt Jackson, on the legend’s “SKJ”, and displays his virtuosity on Duke Ellington’s “Take the Coltrane”. Coltrane’s “Wise One” was the title track of a previous Kind of Blue release by Hutcherson and is reinterpreted here thanks to DeFrancesco’s accompaniment. The organist leads with an improvisation before Bernstein and Hutcherson contribute their touching statements on the melody.
Hutcherson says of the title track of the album, “every time I play with Joey, we play that. I always love to hear Joey and listen to his bass line. Yeah, and that tempo, there’s a longing feeling in it.” Both Hutcherson and DeFrancesco showcase their ballad chops on Ned Washington and Victor Young’s “My Foolish Heart”. The vibraphonist says, “it’s good to think about the song, singing the lyric, because you know the instrument should be something of a voice. It should be an extension of it. The things that you listen to that really grab you right away are things that make you feel like it’s human.”
Hutcherson, a California native and long time resident of Half Moon Bay, spent his formative years in New York, arriving there more than 50 years ago. Hutcherson has put his stamp on jazz both as a leader and as a sideman on classic records such as Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch and Jackie McLean’s One Step Beyond. Among the constant gigging and studio sessions, Hutcherson recorded two albums in the mid-sixties pairing vibes with the Hammond organ, a popular combination of the era. Grant Green’s Street of Dreams (1964) and Big John Patton’s Let ‘Em Roll (1965) went largely overlooked but saw Hutcherson’s melodious sound combine with the Hammond to produce a blanket of silky resonance. Forty years would pass before the vibraphonist reteamed with the B3 on Joey DeFrancesco’s Organic Vibes. Somewhere in the Night continues the relationship between the two musicians.