Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Steve Hobbs Tribute To Bobby

Steve Hobbs
Tribute To Bobby
Challenge Records

Marimba / vibes veteran Steve Hobbs has dedicated this new recording to Bobby Hutcherson who mentored him as a young player. The dedication came after Hutcherson's recent death shortly after this program of mostly originals by Hobbs that encompass modern mainstream examples of post bop, Latin, Funk, Calypso, and the such. Emphasis on this date is on the woodier marimba. He is joined by a terrific band including Adam Kolker on saxes, Bill O’Connell on piano, Peter Washington on bass and John Riley on drums. Hobbs himself in the booklet elaborates on the renditions of ten originals and three covers.

On the opening "The Craving Performance," one observes how tight the rhythm section is as Washington's firm bass anchors this lively swinger. Kolker's tough tenor solo is followed by Hobbs on marimba on a solo displaying imagination as well as precision. "Into the Storm" opens with Riley's drums and a short period of controlled chaos between marimba and piano. It transitions to a 5/4 on an animated performance with several metric changes and superb piano from O'Connell. On the wonderful interpretation of "Besame Mucho," Hobbs states that he "wanted a West African Naningo feel … ." This is a quartet performance with his marimba lending more of a Caribbean than Afro-Cuban flavor. Both O'Connell and Hobbs are spectacular while Washington and Riley are superb throughout. Kolker returns with authority on the vibrant, driving "New Creation," followed by Hobbs who states Hutcherson's influence on him is perhaps most evident here. Washington also solos on this selection.

The breezy latin-flavored "Tres Vias" has Kolker on soprano with a serpentine solo, followed by the lovely "Millie," with nice brush work from Riley and then, "Thelonious Funk," which has a playful, funky tone. "The Road to Happy Destiny" is a a gospel-rock-R&B flavored song having lyrics about hope and service where the backing track was recorded first and the vocals added later (including a brief scat solo). Then comes a reflective rendition of Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind," a punchy latin-flavored "El Sueno de Horace Silver," with hot mallets and tenor sax. "In From the Storm," is a pop-flavored composition  having a light bossa nova groove, and vocals. It is followed by an ebullient calypso romp, "Let's Go To Abaco!"

The quartet has a brisk take on the Rodgers and Hart standard "Where or When," that is kicked off by Riley, before Hobbs' sterling marimba solo with Riley taking a crisp, drum solo. It concludes this recording in an impressive manner.

I received from my review copy from a publicist. I have edited, for clarity, the review that appeared in the November-December 2017 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 375).

No comments: