Monday, December 2, 2013

U DIG IT?: Chase Jackson digitizes Bobby Hutcherson's 1982 recording Solo/Quartet

The James R. and Susan Neumann Jazz Collection presents

the neUmann DIGITization project
Beginning in fall 2013, we're giving interested students the chance to choose an LP to digitize from the ca. 50,000 jazz-related recordings currently in the Neumann Jazz Collection and then to answer a few brief questions about their experience. If you'd like to be a part of the project, you can find out more information here. Today our post is by Chase Jackson (OC '13), who chose the 1982 album Solo/Quartet by Bobby Hutcherson (Contemporary Records 14009.)

Why in general did you want to be a part of this project? 
As a jazz musician and composer, I have a significant interest in all recorded music and improvised music in particular. I’ve also worked in the Neumann Collection since the beginning of this semester which has helped me gain an appreciation for the immense amount of music that the collection contains. The opportunity to select from such a range of recordings, many of which have never been released digitally, was too good to pass up. 

Why did you choose this particular record? 
I wanted to choose a record that I ordinarily wouldn’t have the opportunity to listen to. Until looking at the collection’s catalog, I had no idea that this particular recording had been made. In addition to including a line-up of jazz legends – McCoy Tyner, Billy Higgins and Herbie Lewis – the “A” side of the record is comprised of Hutcherson playing solo, multi-tracking multiple parts on a variety of percussion instruments. Bobby Hutcherson has been one of my favorite players since I first started playing the vibraphone and I was curious to hear him in this context.

What did you gain from this experience that you otherwise wouldn’t have if you had found an existing digital version on YouTube or Spotify? 
Though I personally don’t have a record collection myself, I appreciate the way the medium encourages one to listen to the full length of the album rather than selected tracks. The two sides of this album are juxtaposed through the different textural contrast between the solo and quartet instrumentation. Had I been listening online, it’s likely that I would have only listened to individual pieces rather than the full work. I feel that taking the time to sit and listen to the recording in its original analog format allows for a greater appreciation for the nuances of the musicians’ playing.

What were some of the musical highlights of the recording? 
Another reason for my interest in this record was the strong focus on original compositions. The album contains six originals and two standards. The “A” side is very unique in Hutcherson’s layered use of marimba, bass marimba, chimes as well as the vibraphone. It showcases an orchestral side of his compositional style that I’ve rarely heard. The quartet side contains some great playing by all members of the band. Personally, I found the most inspired performance to be the standard “Old Devil Moon.” It’s apparent that the musicians feel very comfortable in the straight ahead “hard-bop” context and the energy in both Hutcherson’s and Tyner’s solos is tangible. Another highlight of the album for me is their rendition of “My Foolish Heart.” Hutcherson phrases and embellishes the melody beautifully, providing an excellent contrast to the energetic tracks preceding it. 

Can other students listen to the LP now that it's been digitized? 
Yes, just click here and, when prompted, enter your ObieID and password.  If you’re off campus, you’ll need to authenticate using Oberlin’s VPN.