JAZZ REVIEW : Tasty End to Drew Festival

When tenor saxophonist Harold Land and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson get together, it’s the musical equivalent of a dip in the Pacific on a hot summer afternoon--both refreshing and invigorating.

Revamping their late ‘60s-early ‘70s quintet for the first time in a decade, Land and Hutcherson were a highlight Sunday of the closing concert of Jazz at Drew, a four- day, two-weekend fund-raising festival held on the campus of the Charles R. Drew School of Medicine and Science.

Everything about the Land-Hutcherson ensemble was modern and uplifting--the selections, the solos and the deluxe rhythm team, comprised of William Henderson (piano), James Leary (bass) and Harold Mason (drums).

From the band’s opener--"Alvin’s Smile,” a crafty blues tune where both sounds, and silence, were essential elements--to its closer, Monk’s “Rhythm-a-Ning,” excitement and creativity were the watchwords.


Land, was as he always has been, an intense, determined soloist. On each number, he alternated between direct, simple phrases, and whirling torrents of notes. He changed directions so often, his golden, gleaming tones seemed to bump into each other.

Hutcherson fully exploited the percussive nature of his instrument, hooking one colorful garland of notes into another, climaxing a fluid run with a smartly-smacked single note. He also employed minimalism, repeating two, three or four notes, then slightly shifting the notes, creating a carpet of resonant, floating tones.