Hobbs, Steve - Tribute To Bobby,
Thanks to the wonderful Jim Eigo in America, I keep being sent some amazing jazz albums which otherwise I would never have even heard of, and here we are with yet another very fine example. Although this is only the third release from the band, Steve has been pursuing a musical career for more than forty years, and this is a tribute to his mentor and friend, Bobby Hutcherson. The line-up is Steve (marimba and vibes), Adam Kolker (sax), Bill O’Connell (piano), Peter Washington (bass) and John Riley (drums), but what makes this album so incredibly special is not only the interplay and sheer togetherness of the band (boy are they tight), but the way that everyone allows the others to take centre stage and drop into the background at just the right time. The album has Steve’s name on the cover, and he is very much the leader and director, but this is a band first and foremost, one that has earned their stripes by playing together for countless hours.
The production is crisp, with each instrument clearly defined, while musically the album encompasses modern mainstream examples of post-bop, Latin, Funk, Calypso, and much more. It just feels so fresh and inviting, and although I am writing this in a muggy Melbourne morning, I feel as if I am being transported to a forest after the rain with the day inviting and promising so much. This is an uplifting album, one that I feel truly enriched for having heard. If you ever felt that you ought to at some point listen to a marimba-led jazz band who really know their chops, then this is it.