Bobby Hutcherson, a vibraphonist whose improvising and composition helped to define modernity for jazz as a whole, has died. He had long struggled with emphysema. He was 75.

As a mallet percussionist, he expanded the scope of what was possible on his instrument. And the sound he created was widely influential.

Putting On Good Vibrations

Dec 17, 2014

Vibraphonist Tony Miceli tells of his musical journey as if it were a love story, one filled with joy and tribulation, optimism, and sincerity.

His tale begins in 1960s New Jersey, where his family would tune in to hear Frank Sinatra over every Sunday breakfast, starting what would become a long romance with jazz, but also radio. During his teenage years he would turn again to the radio for a kind of early-musical mentorship, following the tastes of trusted deejays for guidance.

The vibraphone is a special instrument. That spooky, smoky, sparkling sound — there's nothing like it. And there's nothing like hearing the vibes played by Bobby Hutcherson.

Hutcherson has covered a lot of ground on his instrument. In the 1950s he was already playing professional gigs, as a teenager. In the '60s, he was a leading light of jazz's avant garde, breaking new ground on some of the most revered LPs issued by Blue Note Records.