Gregory Hutchinson, a highly acclaimed musician of his era, has earned recognition for his significant contributions to the diverse musical realms of jazz, hip-hop, R&B, and Neo-soul. At the age of 52, he unveiled his debut solo album, “Da Bang,” under the Warner Music Group Germany label on September 29th. This 50-minute musical journey, featuring 15 tracks, transcends mere entertainment, taking its listeners on a spiritual and deeply personal odyssey. Hutchinson understands that the power of music extends beyond mere enjoyment; it serves as a healing force, offering a pathway for courageous self-expression. While renowned for his jazz expertise, Hutchinson’s proficiency extends to hip-hop, funk, R&B, and Neo-soul, all of which he boldly interweaves throughout “Da Bang.” The dynamic shifts in the drumming showcase Hutchinson’s versatility, creating a fusion of genres that resonates throughout the record. There are 15 tracks on the record, with Track 6 and 12 serving as interludes. Both interludes feature interesting drum chops and dialogue.
The first song of the record speaks the truth of Hutchinson. He is writing “Straight from the Heart.” The vocal talents of Leona Berlin and Karriem Riggins express the emotion behind the lyrics. Hutchinson says “Challenging things in life motivate you to be better and try new things, I found myself going to the park at 6:00 in the morning, writing in my journal, and those words became song lyrics.” He continues: “Making music is supposed to be telling your life story, and this is my story without boundaries.” His statement rings true through his musical and lyrical expressions throughout the record.
“What’s Best For Us,” a collaborative track featuring PJ, is a captivating fusion of soul and hip-hop, seamlessly melding contemporary pop elements with the timeless essence of hip-hop. The song also weaves in subtle jazz influences on various instruments. PJ’s vocals, with their enchanting melodies, add a captivating dimension to the composition. With its infectious verses and chorus, the song possesses an undeniable catchiness, making it a true musical powerhouse. The song may be about leaving a relationship behind, Hutchinson says:
It can also just mean living your life the best you can and not worrying what others think.” – Gregory Hutchinson
Once more, the album features soulful and irresistibly catchy vocals, showcased in “So Confused,” a collaboration with Kameron Corvet. This track not only delivers a heartfelt message but also uplifts the listener.
The album’s mood takes a sharp turn with “Angels Around,” an enchanting soulful composition that commences with the resonant tones of an acoustic bass. This song is a fusion of jazz nuances paired with hip-hop-style drum rhythms and record skips, making it one of the most distinctive offerings on the record. As it progresses, “Angels Around” unfolds with remarkable jazz guitar riffs, adding an extra layer of musical allure. Don’t miss the highly technical guitar solo on this track. It will blow your mind!
The album smoothly segues into “Crazy Games,” featuring the exceptional vocals of Leona Berlin. The song’s introduction predominantly revolves around a dynamic interplay of drums and vocals, creating an opportunity for Hutchinson to flaunt his instrumental talents while the vocalist enhances the musical depth and richness. The guitar solo comes in for brief and powerful moments. Leona Berlin is also featured on “Losing You.” This song features a jazzy bass line that will hook listeners in and blow their minds.
“My Turn” presents exceptionally seamless transitions between markedly distinct segments, a feat only achievable by virtuoso jazz musicians. This composition takes the listener on a musical journey, serving as a testament to the immense talent on display throughout the song.
Hip hop influence dominates in “Last Time We Gonna Polite” featuring Christian Scott, with an incredibly powerful and rhythmically perfect rap delivery. While the drums and vocal style live in the hip hop genre, a jazz horn is leaving its mark on the track as well. Lyrically, this song is of the conscious hip-hop genre. It denounces racism and stands up against white supremacy. The ending lyrics say: “Enough is enough.” This song is mind-opening and empowering. It’s a must-here.
The next track, “New Dawn,” primarily embraces the Neo-Soul and R&B genres. This composition exudes a relaxed vibe, accentuated by glistening piano riffs and velvety, soulful vocals. In the mid-section to end section some excellent vocal riffing can be heard.
If the record hasn’t already blown your mind by track 11, I’d be surprised. Step into a kingdom of drums and soulful vocals on “Blow Your Mind / Let’s Take It Back.” The musical and vocal talents (Sy Smith) showcased in the song will definitely blow your mind. This song smoothly shifts genres to a break-down hip-hop section. The retro feel of the hip hop will induce a sense of nostalgia. Javier Starks rap flow is impeccable.
“When you look back, you realize all music is connected. No matter what color, genre, gender, and sexual orientation, we share a space and a time. But let’s not be confused, each music does have a vocabulary, and as long as you respect that, and do it authentically, you see none of the genres are that far apart.” – Gregory Hutchinson
The album ends as strongly as it begins. “We Got Drumz” gives a nod to New York-hop hop. While “When They’re Gone” showcases another side of Hutchinson’s drum chops. “Fly Away” ends the album on a high note. A psychedelic vocal chant fused with drum solos, horn solos, makes this track a triumphant ending piece. Once the record comes to a close, you may want to spend some time reflecting on the themes and lyrics, and then you will want to listen to the record again.
Gregory Hutchinson is currently based in Rome, Italy. He is from Brooklyn, New York. Hutchinson has worked with jazz musicians; Betty Carter, Red Rodney, Roy Hargrove, Joshua Redman, Dianne Reeves, Lou Donaldson, Wynton Marsalis, John Scofield, Diana Krall, and Harry Connick Jr, to name a few. Jazz Magazine calls Hutchinson “the drummer of his generation.”
Listen to Da Bang on Spotify now:
Written by Ryan Cassata
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