Bittersweet Moments with Bobby Hutcherson

Posted on Feb 7, 2011

I caught a show that reminded me that you do have to catch older great artists while they are still alive. Case in point is the Bobby Hutcherson show that I caught at Yoshi’s in Oakland. The occasion was his 70th Birthday celebration. Now, I haven’t seen Bobby in a long time. I decided to go since I had the opportunity to see him at the last minute. I was in for a shocker! A thin, frail Bobby Hutcherson got on stage with tubes from his nostrills connected to a breathing apparatus. My heart sank to see him in this state of health. Although he seemed in great spirits, his body language spoke volumes of his medical condition. He played beautifully. However, his trademark long fluid expressions on the vibes are now replaced by short tasty solos augmented by his great band. This was still first class jazz tastefully performed by these pros. I was later told by my friend at Yoshis that Bobby is suffering from emphysema. I was happy and sad to have been there in attendance. Great artists are human like all of us….and like all of us, they continue to pay their dues.