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Out to Lunch stands as Eric Dolphy's magnum opus, an absolute pinnacle of avant-garde jazz in any form or era. Its rhythmic complexity was perhaps unrivaled since Dave Brubeck's Time Out, and its five Dolphy originals -- the jarring Monk tribute "Hat and Beard," the aptly titled "Something Sweet, Something Tender," the weirdly jaunty flute showcase "Gazzelloni," the militaristic title track, the drunken lurch of "Straight Up and Down" -- were a perfect balance of structured frameworks, carefully calibrated timbres, and generous individual freedom.
HEAD ON (1971) is the most ambitious and adventurous work in Bobby Hutcherson's discography. Though the composer/bandleader/vibraphonist did contribute one tune ("Mtume"), HEAD ON mostly features the ambitious compositions and arrangements of Todd Cochran, who also plays piano on the session. The resulting music is dense and polyrhythmic, and bracing, drawing parallels to Miles Davis's BITCHES BREW and other first wave fusion albums. Cochran arranges for the 18-piece group here with a mad scientist's zeal but still manages to create precise orchestral textures. Elements of chamber music and funk abound, and Hutcherson's clear, cool marimba and vibraphone work shimmers throughout. This release marks the album's first appearance on CD, giving Hutcherson fans reason to rejoice.
By 1966, this innovator and virtuoso had produced an amazing amount of cutting-edge music with Jackie McLean, Grachan Moncur III, Andrew Hill, and Eric Dolphy, as well as on his first two Blue Note albums. 'Happenings' was his first album in a conventional quartet format (but what a band, with Herbie Hancock, Bob Cranshaw, and Joe Chambers!). With the exception of Hancock's "Maiden Voyage", the material is originals by the vibist, and the range and harmonic depth of his compositions is as impressive as his playing. A unique and rewarding album in the long career of this exceptional musician.
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