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Dramatic but a bit out of sync

October 16, 2003|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

Pianist McCoy Tyner and vibraphone player Bobby Hutcherson have worked together on various occasions throughout their lengthy jazz careers. Their backgrounds and musical points of view would seem to indicate a natural musical compatibility.

On Tuesday night at the Jazz Bakery, however, compatibility was sometimes present, sometimes not. Each player seemed at his best, in fact, in a solo segment: Tyner playing "Moment's Notice" (written by, he noted, his "former teacher and employer, John Coltrane") and Hutcherson with the curious choice of the Doris Day hit "It's Magic."

Playing a 9-foot Steinway grand piano, unnecessarily amplified, Tyner offered a take on the Coltrane number that was characteristically rhapsodic, filled with thunderous chording and waterfalls of fast-flowing arpeggios.

Hutcherson's "It's Magic," on the other hand, was open and spare, each note perfectly placed for dramatic impact, reflecting a musical view in which melody is front and center.

Together in the balance of the set, those disparate qualities produced mixed results. The lyrical qualities of "December," from Tyner's new album, "Land of Giants," had some attractive moments, especially those in which Tyner lowered his intensity level to allow Hutcherson's vibes to ring through. "St. Louis Blues" displayed the indigo core of both players' roots. And "How Deep Is the Ocean?" juxtaposed comparably fleet lines from both instrumentalists.

For the most part, however, those passages were far less common than segments in which Tyner's big-screen playing style -- appropriate for his work with Coltrane -- seemed too dramatically outsized to serve as an appropriate creative foil for Hutcherson's more focused, more musically miniaturist approach.


McCoy Tyner & Bobby Hutcherson

Where: The Jazz Bakery, 3233 Helms Ave., L.A.

When: Tonight-Sunday, 8 and 9:30 p.m.

Price: $25

Info: (310) 271-9039

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