Bobby Hutcherson - Head On

Blue Note

Recording Date: July 1971

Re-release date (with added tracks): May 13th 2008

Availabilty: CD, MP3 download, iTunes

 Head On cover

Centred on Bobby Hutcherson's collaboration with tenor sax player Harold Land, "Head On" is an almost forgotten major work of early 70's jazz that draws on the artistic freedom opened up by Miles Davis' breakthroughs with "In A Silent Way" and "Bitches Brew".

Most of the music is composed and arranged by the then young pianist Todd Cochran. (There is one Bobby Hutcherson original, "Mtume").

The sound pallet is vast with over twenty musicians involved. (Bobby Hutcherson (vibes, marimba), Harold Land (tenor sax, flute), Fred Jackson (piccolo), Oscar Brashear (fluegel horn, trumpet), Todd Cochran (piano) James Leary, III, Reginald Johnson (bass), William Henderson (electric piano), George Bohanon, Louis Spears (tuba), Delbert Hill, Charles Owens, Herman Riley, Ernie Watts (reeds), Willie Ruff (french horn), Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, Nesbert "Stix" Hooper, Woody Theus (drums), Warren Bryant (conga)).

While freedom is allowed for some virtuoso soloing, the main emphasis in on the contribution made to the overall sound of the ensemble which more than once becomes filmic. (It is not surprising that - alongside working with performers such as Peter Gabriel, Grover Washington, Herbie Hancock, The Staple Singers, Stanley Clarke, Jeff Beck and Stan Getz - Todd Cochran has produced musical scores for films such as "The Hurricane", "The Best Man", "The Maciano Story", "Sprung", "Five Heartbeats" and "Cat Chasers"). In contrast, a number of cuts introduce strong groove orientated playing.

There is over 40 minutes of previously unreleased material, in the form of three tracks, "Togo Land", "Jonathan", and "Hey Harold".

Stand out tracks are "Jonathan" which features Bobby Hutcherson's beautiful vibe playing and Harold Land's expressive sax playing in strong focus, "Clockwork Of The Spirits" which makes the most of the capabilities of the large ensemble and contains a particularly fine solo by Harold Land and the opening "At The Source" which is in three sections – "Ashes And Rust", "Eucalyptus", "Obsidian" – and sets the scene for the whole album where composed, evocative jazz tests the boundaries of free form but stays just "inside".

This is an important reissue that adds to the picture of Bobby Hutcherson's late sixties / early seventies work following the recent release of "Inner Glow", "Cirrus" and "The View From The Inside" as part of a Mosaic Select box set and, hopefully, awakes renewed interest Harold Land's music.

Related reviews: Bobby Hutcherson "The Kicker"   Bobby Hutcherson "Happenings"  Bobby Hutcherson "For Sentimental Reasons"  SF Jazz Collective "2"  DVD "One Night With Blue Note"

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