originally published on 19 September 2014
2014 marks the 75th anniversary of Blue Note Records, and the label has given us a few surprises this year.
Bobby Hutcherson, 73, long considered the master of the vibraphone (a xylophone-like instrument that is reminiscent of the lighter tones of steel drums, but with more pitch and tone control), returns for his best album in literally decades, Enjoy The View.
On paper, it is an odd mix of musicians. One of them happens to be saxophonist David Sanborn. Sanborn, mainly noted for his lite/smooth jazz albums and pop leanings, remarkably has never sounded better than he does here. All of the players work well off each other, with the key word here being “ensemble”.
Maybe it is the company. Along with Hutcherson and Sanborn, Joey DeFrancesco (organ/trumpet) and drummer Billy Hart craft a truly great album. None of it is strikingly original, mind you, but it harkens back to so many jazz classics (“Delia” readily quotes “So What” by Miles Davis, for example) and themes it isn’t hard to categorize this album as being almost traditional in scope.
Maybe it is the producer. Don Was, who’s credits in so many forms of music would fill three of these columns, is the the Blue Note president, and he has suddenly decided to set out to create an album that helps reestablish Blue Note Records by their moniker: The Finest in Jazz since 1939.
On the surface, like many Steely Dan albums, it seems all light and airy. As the tracks gain ground, however, a melancholy mood slowly takes over. It would not be a stretch to retitle this album “Jazz for a Rainy Day”.
Rather than rest on their laurels, the memebers here decide to do something truly remarkable in any music field. Instead of superstar turns, the band comes across like a jazz Traveling Wilburys, which is music for the sheer pleasure of it and each other’s company.
Love to you all.