Jazz Album of the Week: Tribute To Bobby

Mar 5, 2018

March 5, 2018. From one vibraphonist to another, Tribute To Bobby is Steve Hobbs’ homage to his old friend and colleague, the late Bobby Hutcherson. Rather than performing a bunch of Hutcherson’s tunes, Steve composed many of the songs, and added some classics that Bobby liked.

Hobbs managed to get together an all-star group for a recording that was not initially slated to be a tribute album. Bill O’Connell is featured on piano, Peter Washington is on bass, Adam Kolker on sax; John Riley beats the drums. This seasoned band, along with Hobbs’ arrangements, delivers music that is emotional, yet very pleasant listening. As you go through the tracks, there’s a little bit of everything.

The guys really swing on “The Craving Phenomenon.” They add some funk to the mix on “Thelonious Funk,” and wear their hearts on their sleeves on the ballad “Millie.” They show off some novel approaches to the standards, with a West African feel on “Besame Mucho,” and a brisk interpretation of Rogers and Hart’s “Where or When.”

The biggest surprise on this album is the appearance of vocalists on the gospel-infused “The Happy Road To Destiny.” Carol Ingbretsen, Maurice Myers and Melvin Thorne take us straight to church on this Hobbs original. Hobbs wasn’t sure about including a vocal track on the album until he remembered that Bobby Hutcherson used to do some pop-inspired music. So he went for it.

You’ll hear plenty of Tribute To Bobby on WRTI —even on Jeff Duperon's Jukebox Jazz because the album contains a jazzy version of Bob Dylan’s “Blowing In the Wind.”