Bobby Hutcherson, the master jazz vibraphonist and bandleader, died yesterday at home in Montara, CA, the New York Times reports. His death follows a long struggle with emphysema, according to Marshall Lamm, a spokesman for Hutcherson’s family. He was 75.
Born in L.A. in 1941, Hutcherson made his name in early ’60s New York, where he helped pioneer the vibraphone’s use in jazz with an original four-mallet technique. From 1963, alongside Andrew Hill and Jackie McLean, he helped Blue Note branch into experimentalism. His first album as a leader, Dialogue, came out on the label in 1965, the same year his classic “Little B’s Poem” was released on his Components LP. Throughout the years, his collaborators included Eric Dolphy, on whose staple Out to Lunch he played vibes, as well as Harold Land (San Francisco) and, in Bertrand Tavernier’s 1986 film Round Midnight, Herbie Hancock.
After a drug bust in New York, in 1967, Hutcherson moved to L.A., where he continued to release records on Blue Note, before parting ways with the label in 1977. Over the following decades, as he turned his attention to balladry, his influence spread beyond the jazz world. In 2008, he released “Montara” on More Groove, with remixes by Madlib and the Roots on the B-side. In 2014, despite severe ill health, he returned to Blue Note to release the soul-jazz record Enjoy the View, his last.