Discovering Leroy Hutson

A name I have heard mentioned in hushed tones over many years is that of Leroy Hutson. I’ll be honest, though I knew a couple of tracks by him, with ‘Cool Out’ from 1975 being one I heard all over when I was getting my jazz chops going, he wasn’t someone, for a reason that now baffles me, that I sourced more from.

In light of a recent announcement by the Acid Jazz record label that they had licensed a deal to release rare tracks and the back catalogue by Hutson on CD and vinyl, my interest in the man was piqued and I thought it high time I investigated further.

As ever, always best to begin at the start with these things I find. He was born in 1945 and raised in Newark, New Jersey. He was a member of local bands from a very young age.  By 1967 Hutson was however studying (originally dentistry though that subsequently changed to music) at Howard University in Washington DC alongside the likes of singers Carla Thomas and the late, great Donny Hathaway. Donny and Leroy came to the attention of soul legend Curtis Mayfield who put them together with Guy Draper to form The Mayfield Singers. Their only single was a cover of ‘I’ve Been Tryin’ ’ formerly by The Impressions.

Hathaway and Hutson continued to work on writing songs together and penned the all time classic ‘The Ghetto’ from 1970.

When Mayfield left The Impressions to go solo, it was Leroy, not long out of college, who replaced him in 1971 to work alongside Fred Cash and Sam Gooden. His stay with them was only brief however and from 1973 he was to release a fine stream of singles on the Curtom label.

He was also in demand as a writer/producer and arranger for others and these included Jerry Butler, Deon Jackson and Roberta Flack among many others.

Commercial success was elusive however and that is perhaps why his output is not more widely known. Among the soul cognoscenti though his run of Curtom LPs from 1973 and 1979 beginning with ‘Love Oh Love’ to ‘Unforgettable’ are highly prized and treasured, with ‘Hutson’ and ‘Hutson II’ particularly favourites.

In 1982 he released ‘Paradise’ on Elektra Records and then silence for the next 25 years or so with no releases forthcoming.

However, even if not releasing new music, he was known to tour, satisfying his cult following and 2009 saw the release of ‘Soothe You Groove You’.

Now the good folk at Acid Jazz have plans to re-release the classic albums to the new generations and are putting the name of Leroy Hutson back on the soul map.

Many thanks to Dean Rudland for the additional info.

The Mumper of SE5