Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
May 24th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Spirited Away

music_Bobby_HutchersonBobby Hutcherson on spontaneity, technique and music as prayer
With all the records under Bobby Hutcherson’s belt—about 70, if you include his recordings as a sideman—you’d think he would spend the occasional day sitting at home, listening to his music and reminiscing about old times. Not so, says the legendary post-bop/free jazz/hard bop vibraphonist.

“If you listen to yourself, then you program yourself, and you say to yourself, ‘Oh, I like what I just played right there,’” the musician states. “And every time you get to that spot in that song, you play that! Music should be like the wind: You don’t know where it came from; you don’t know where it went. It only passes through once.”

Hutcherson, who appears at Kuumbwa Jazz on Monday, Jan. 24 (three days after his 70th birthday), has an unusually linear playing style for a vibraphonist. He notes, however, that it’s possible to “flirt around with the harmonics” even while playing a horizontal melodic line.

“You can still do arpeggios and play vertical; you can all of a sudden spell the chord, or you can spell the substitutes,” he says, adding that in many situations, intervals of minor thirds and fourths are always agreeable. “Like, pentatonic scales or pentatonic chords are all contained within everything,” he observes. “But it’s gotta feel natural [to use such devices]. You just don’t do it to do it, because otherwise it becomes a lesson, you know? If you do it the wrong way, it’s just going to sound like a bunch of notes. You have to do it as though you’re talking; as though words can be put to it.”

Hutcherson, a deeply spiritual person, believes that the bandstand should be an altar where one comes to pray. “The more you understand that, then the more you understand that it has nothing to do with you,” he offers. “Because only when you understand that can you understand the eternity of it.

When you think about someone after they’ve passed away, you think about their spirit, and the spirit is forever. And contained in that spirit is the note and the sound that truly gave them the reason to be here to play. And it won’t be a group of notes; it’ll be just this one sound that they had.” He adds, “The spirit stays with all the people who had the chance to hear this person play. The spirit stays forever; the soul is gone. So, it’s like the soul can play all the trickier stuff!” He stops to let out a hearty laugh.

The vibraphonist stresses the importance of being able to make a single note sing. “Sometimes the most basic stuff is the most important,” he says. “Is the note gonna be proud? Are you gonna play it at the top of the beat, the middle of the beat or behind the beat? Is this note gonna be sassy? Is it gonna be nasty? Is it gonna be quick? Is it gonna be long? Is it gonna have a sharp edge? Is it gonna be dull, sad, happy? Sometimes it’s worth forgetting about all the other slick stuff and just going back to the first note and working on that.”

And if the performer should hit a sour note? “There are no wrong notes; it’s only the look on your face,” Hutcherson opines. “You can hit the same note, and to the audience, whether it was right or wrong depends on the look on your face.”


The Bobby Hutcherson Quartet plays at 7 and 9 p.m. Monday, Jan. 24, at Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $25 in advance or $28 at the door for the 7 p.m. show, $20 in advance or $23 at the door for the 9 p.m. show. For more information, call 427-2227.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival