In the 60s vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson stepped forward as the young champion of the style pioneered by Milt Jackson, the very personification of the instrument--and right on time. Gary Burton, two years Hutcherson's junior, had already radically redefined the instrument's role, in bands led by George Shearing and Stan Getz; rather than Jackson's hornlike lines, he used a pianistic, pointillist approach, with two or three mallets in each hand. By contrast, Hutcherson stuck mainly to single-note lyricism--but he doubled the speed, complicated the rhythms, and extended the melodic range. At the time a member of the Blue Note stable, he played with a wide variety of labelmates, his cool-soul style turning up in everything from the dense intellectualism of Andrew Hill to the rough-and-tumble boogaloos of Lee Morgan. That style, marked by marvelous knots of rosary-bead introspection and rapid-fire three-octave runs, has remained fairly constant throughout the subsequent four decades, surviving both thin times--Hutcherson recorded only two albums under his own name in the 90s--and the former demi-radical's maturation into a respected elder statesman. Hutcherson still surprises himself occasionally--assuming we can trust his vivid onstage reactions to gambits or denouements within his own solos--and that's always good for the audience as well. He plays here in a quartet, supported by three redoubtable locals: pianist Willie Pickens, bassist Larry Gray, and drummer George Fludas. See also Saturday and Sunday. Fri 5/27, 9 and 11 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $25.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.