Monday, June 22, 2009

Bobby Hutcherson - Medina

This is my favorite jazz recording. Actually, it was originally two separate sessions: the CD reissue of Medina includes another wonderful album called Spiral from the same period and with the same killer line-up: Bobby Hutcherson on vibraphone, Harold Land on tenor sax and flute, Stanley Cowell on piano, Reggie Johnson on bass, and Joe Chambers on drums.

For about a year this CD didn't leave my player at all. For me, it's the perfect combination of incredible musicianship, innovative compositions, and emotion. This band clearly played a lot together and they're communicating on a level that I can only compare to Miles Davis' band from the 60s with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. Not that it sounds anything like that group, but the same spirit of adventure is there. As I mentioned, the compositions are excellent and the band takes liberties with them, finding freedom within the structure.

In my opinion, this album contains some of Hutcherson & Land's best work on record. Harold Land's burning tenor solo on the title track "Medina" is alone worth the price of admission. Not to mention the creative, forward-looking playing of Stanley Cowell and the fluid yet solid drumming of the great Joe Chambers. Joe is a gifted composer and contributes the incredible title track and three others: "Ungano," "Spiral," and "Ruth," one of the catchiest tunes I've heard in 11/4! Other highlights are Cowell's "Wedding March," Hutcherson's "Avis" and the stunningly beautiful "Visions," and Land's quirky and brilliant "Poor People's March."

Like all great recordings, this one is out of print (shame on you, Blue Note!) and the CD now fetches collector's prices. But don't hesitate to pick it up if you find it!

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