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Patterns (1968)

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Stanley Cowell

An entirely worthy Bobby Hutcherson LP that went unissued until 1980, Patterns finds the vibist working in typically challenging territory; what makes this session distinctive is that it features some of drummer and favorite Hutcherson composer Joe Chambers' most structured work, though that hardly means it's traditional or unadventurous. Four of the six pieces are Chambers'; the others are by altoist/flautist James Spaulding (the pensive Martin Luther King tribute "A Time to Go") and pianist Stanley Cowell (the warmly melodic waltz "Effi," dedicated to his wife). Given his past work, Chambers deals with melodic themes to a surprising degree, as with the madly driving title track and the odd-metered "Ankara," which is anchored by a repeated six-note bassline. His lovely, pensive tone poem "Nocturnal" also displays his interest in 20th century classical music, heavily featuring Spaulding's flute. In fact, Spaulding plays a great deal of flute throughout the album, his tone matching quite well with Hutcherson's vibes. Bassist Reggie Workman has a big, booming tone and brings out his upper register work with clarity and force, making himself an understated but important presence. All in all, it's another solid, inventive session by a musician who seemed capable of nothing less during this period of his career. Blue Note's 1995 reissue inadvertently flip-flops the original LP sides on the CD itself, but leaves the order of the titles intact on the packaging. That's why the bonus track, an alternate take of "Patterns," is the same piece misidentified as "Effi" on track four.] ~ Steve Huey