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Quotes by Others About Bobby Hutcherson

  • "Bobby has a very open mind. He hears and feels a lot of things that are beyond the limits of jazz as that term has been conventionally used. Also, he's a very warm person--direct and candid--and that comes through in his music. What he plays has a particular lift to it because he himself is so alive, because he so digs being." [Herbie Hancock, liner notes to Components]

  • Hutcherson "has the capacity to keep going in his own direction while never losing his rapport with the other voices. And another thing about Bobby is that he knows tradition, and is a part of it. In his playing, you can hear what's gone before him. He can play the blues, and he can also go places no one has ever been before." [Joe Chambers, liner notes to Components]

  • "Bobby Hutcherson for President!" [Kenny Garrett, liner notes to Happy People]

  • "Bobby is one of the best musicians in the world." [McCoy Tyner]
  • "Bobby had (and still has) a work ethic, a brilliant mind, a profound, non-ritualistic spirituality, an innate wisdom and warmth that make for the ingredients of an outstanding jazz artists as well as a hell of a human being." [Michael Cuscuna, liner notes to The Kicker]
  • "Bobby is a very dynamic player. Like Lester Young leading the way for extensions on his fresh approach with the tenor saxophone and like Coltrane setting things up for the next steps, I think Bobby represents the next logical step in the generation of vibists through his tremendous emotional and physical involvement, his concept of  freedom, his own sound, and his own brand of excitement. He is one of the young rabbits -- playing straight through. And the way he gets to it--the feeling is beautiful." [Cal Tjader, liner notes to Total Eclipse]
  • "Bobby is an exceptional soloist. He has accomplished an incredible amount in a comparatively short time... Some people have it, and some people don't. Bobby's got it!" [Gerald Wilson, liner notes to Total Eclipse]

Quotes by Bobby Hutcherson

  • "People like to see vulnerability. Something bad happens and people want to see you be a good sport and they want to see you get off the canvas and shake everybody's hand. You say, 'Wow, that was a heck of a punch I just got punched with. I thought I knew it all, but I guess I don't.' I'm laying down here and I got sucker punched by a chord or a feeling, or something that I thought that I had full control over, but I didn't, and now I'm laying here. OK, let's be a good sport. Let's get up off the floor, and let's shake hands, and admit what happened, and let's go on, go on to the next, and try your best again, and try your best again. That's what life is about and people want to see that. People want to see that you went through this and you struggled, but you still are going after what you want to do and you're doing the best that you can. And yes, there is this beautiful moment that comes back, shining through again. Oh, well it slipped away for a second, but here it comes again. You can still feel the energy of being inside that sphere, of being tossed around and enjoying the wonderful moments of being in love. I certainly hope that that vulnerability aids me." [Interview with Fred Jung, 1999]

  • "I first came [to New York] just at the end of 1960... My first thing when I walked into Birdland to work with Al Grey and Billy Mitchell. This was my first gig and the first time I was in New York, and I've got my vibes, and I'm setting up my vibes at Birdland... Pee Wee Marquette, who was the midget, and he did all the announcing at Birdland, and he smoked a big, long cigar, and he used to throw his weight around if he could. Here's my first day in New York.... I'm setting up my vibes, getting ready to play that night and Pee Wee Marquette comes into the club during the afternoon, while I'm setting up the vibes and he walks straight up to me and blows a big puff of smoke in my face and he says, 'Who are you?' I say, 'I'm Bobby Hutcherson.' He says, 'What are you here for? What are you doing here?' I said, 'Well, I play vibraphone and I'm working with Al Grey and Billy Mitchell.' And he immediately told me, 'We don't need you here.' He says, 'Just pack your things and get on out of here. We got Lionel Hampton and Milt Jackson. We don't need you.' I mean, I was just devastated. Here, all the things about New York, that is was fast, cold, and mean was immediately opened up on me. And because of how he felt about me, he would introduce the band, 'Ladies and gentlemen, here we are at Birdland, 52nd and Broadway, the jazz corner of the world with Al Grey and Billy Mitchell, Donald Byrd, blah, blah, blah, and Babba Hutchkins on vibes.' Babba Hutchkins. Through the first week I said, 'Oh, my God, I'll never make it. Nobody will ever know who I am. I'm being humiliated by this guy.' And he would continually blow this cigar smoke in my face. Well, comes first pay night, everybody got paid at Birdland, across the street at a hotel called the Alvin Hotel. I'm in Al Grey's room and I'm getting paid and there's a knock at the door and Al asked me to get it. I open up the door and there's Pee Wee standing there and he blows another big puff of smoke in my face. He looks right at me and he says, 'You got something for me? You got something for me Papa?' And I knew what he was saying. He wants a tip. I said, 'I don't have a cent for you, the way you said my name, announced my name!' Al was over to the side and Al says, 'Give him five dollars, Bobby.' I said, 'I'm not giving him a cent!' 'Give him five dollars. You'll see.' So I hand him five dollars and Pee Wee closes the door and he walks off. So now, we had a two weekend engagement at Birdland, so now it's the second week, the announcement from Pee Wee goes like this, 'Ladies and gentlemen, from the jazz corner of the world, Birdland, 52nd and Broadway. We now present the Al Grey-Billy Mitchell Sextet, with Al Grey, Billy Mitchell, Donald Byrd, and Bobby Hutcherson on vibes.' So that five dollars completely changed everything, because all of the sudden, everybody heard that there was this new kid in town and he's playing four mallets with a sextet at Birdland, on the stage and he's only nineteen-years-old, and 'boom' everything started." [Interview with Fred Jung, 1999]

  • "There's a lot of those Blue Note albums [from the 60's], if you were to play them right now, they'd sound like there's no date on them. They sound like that's something that could have been recorded yesterday, mainly because a lot of the music would go to you mentally and you might say, 'I remember feeling like that. I remember that feeling. I remember waking up one day and I'd look out and the day looked like that. I remember that.' Those little things, when you relate to those things and at that point, well, the sun doesn't get old. It comes up everyday, but it comes up different everyday, so you remember these little feelings. You remember when you met someone on a certain day or when you sat in a restaurant and having a great dinner conversation. You remember how it felt when the candle was flickering against the face of the other person. You remember how the wind was, how it smelled. If you can bring back these little thoughts, then there is no date on music because it's just as nature. There is no date on nature." [Interview with Fred Jung, 1999]

  • "The whole thing of being in music is not to control it but to be swept away by it. If you're swept away by it you can't wait to do it again and the same magical moments always come." [quoted on the web site www.allaboutjazz.com]



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Original text copyright Scott Mortensen 2006


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