Big Al

Andrew Hill space

102 posts in this topic

I FINALLY get it!!!

Lately, I've been on something of a Hill binge, what with the new Conn coming out & all (and reading all the great comments in that thread, which I am too lazy to link here :P ). I haven't got it yet, but plan to. QUICKLY!!! So, to bide the time, I've been digging other stuff of his.

I was fortunate enough to stumble across a used Mosaic a while back (no booklet, alas), and thought for $22, this was well worth looking into. Needless to say, the first couple of go-rounds scared me to death. (In fact, I still don't get Point of Departure, but that may have more to do with me not being able to get Dolphy than anything else!) But slowly, EVER so slowly, it started working its way into my system. Judgement was the one that left the most lasting impression. I mean, you can't go wrong with Bobby Hutcherson & Elvin Jones. Then I noticed that Richard Davis was all over the sessions, and HIS playing started reeling me in as well. So, two years and countless listenings later, I'm slowly appreciating this set. Some I enjoy now more than ever (Black Fire, One for One, and Andrew!!!); others are still just a wee bit "out there" for me (Smoke Stack, and especially the session with Sam Rivers. I can only listen to that in small doses, intensity level being as high as it is).

Fast forward and start to dig some sideman appearances, especially the Hank Mobley No Room for Squares album. Not only is Hill an accomplished writer, but he's a helluva comper too!!! Especially on tracks like "Three Way Split" and the title cut! Then, of course, there's Dialogue which features Hill stealing the show on a grand scale!

AND, if Joe Christmas is reading, I want to say right now that I shoulda purchased Dusk when you showed it to me at Tower a few years ago. I finally heard that album this week, and cannot remember the last time an album moved me as much as this did. The section work is lush and provocative to be sure, but for me, the highlight is the piano solo (don't have it in front of me, but I'm sure many of you know which one I'm talking about: track #4). I was in a trance at work today, and it was like a beacon of light broke through. Then, the floodgates opened today during lunch, while listening to Greg Osby's The Invisible Hand. Hill's phrasing during the second track, his subtle use of space, and the way he plays with, around, behind, and through the beat was nothing short of breathtaking. That's the kind of thing where something reaches from the music, slaps me around a bit, and says, "SEE??!?" I do now!!!

As a P.S., I picked up Grass Roots today, for fear that somebody else might beat me to it and then I'll wonder what I missed. Hopefully, this thread will go long enough that I'll be able to share some thoughts on that as well.

One more thing, how is Beautiful Day? Does it live up to the title?

Whew! Thanks all for letting me air all this out. Needed to do this after the Cubs heartbreaker tonight! :(:g

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For me, Mr. Hill was a revelation, as it was PoD which truly hooked me as a fan. after getting thru the bulk of Ornette's Atlantic stuff, and missing with the few Jackie McLeans I had (Let freedom Ring, and Destination Out) I knew I liked jazz which was slightly off-center, and thru Eric Dolphy I got into Andrew Hill. When I realized artists coming from disparate routes such as Joe Henderson, Eric and Kenny D., having all three on one album proved to be a true revelation. Then I got into Dialogue and Our Thing and the rest as they say...was history.

I started delving a bit deeper, from Judgement and Smoke Stack then onto some of his mid-70's stuff like Spiral and Montreux (which I sadly have never heard on cd, and then the late 80's BN's with Osby (my hero of the modern jazz set) and back tot he 60's BN's.

I missed Dusk, but have been wanting it for a long time. Beautifu; Day is very nice, while not on the level of some of the stuff I mentioned above, is still a worth addition to the Andrew Hill legacy...or canon, as the man said.

Also check out the Shades cd with Clifford Jordan. It still might be available somewhere. Look for his other mid 80's Soul Note discs as well.

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Big Al -- I could have nearly written that very same story as yours. I too was very slow to develop ears for Hill's work. Really!!! (I know, you all are saying "Rooster_Ties?? - slow to like Andrew Hill???????????")

Like most people, the first Hill I ever heard was "Point of Departure" - and to this very day, it still seems as much like an Eric Dolphy date, as it does a Hill date. (Well, as recently as a year ago I was still saying that – but I’m starting to rethink that now.) I always liked "Pod" in a sort of 'intellectual' way, meaning that I liked it because on the surface it sounded so much like so many other things I liked (at least in a general way) -- like Ornette, Miles after 1965 (including lots of bootlegs), Sun Ra, etc... But really, deep down, I never really liked "PoD" on any kind of deeper level, meaning on more of an emotional level. Listening to "PoD" always was more work than pure driving enjoyment, unlike late 60's Miles -- which was both work and put driving enjoyment for me.

But on a whim (and because of all the great sidemen!!) I got the Hill Mosaic set way back when (before it went out of print), really before I knew very much about Hill. And my reaction to it was nearly the same as to "Pod". Sure, I liked it, but it didn't speak to me very deeply. Not because I didn't think the music was deep (I always knew it was deep) -- but simply because the music just hadn't 'clicked' with me yet.

Well, I listened to the Hill Mosaic for years -- really, for like 4 years (off and on) -- and only then did I start to connect with it. But in some ways, my epiphany with Hill's music has really been relatively recent – say, only in the last year.

And frankly, one of the reasons I got more deeply into Hill's music, was because of Greg Osby and (especially) because of Jason Moran. Moran's own discs, and especially his sideman work with Osby, gave me new ears for the Hill Mosaic, and soon I found myself buying more Hill discs from the 70's and beyond.

I really credit Jason Moran (as much as anything else) with helping open my ears up to Hill's concepts. I think Moran is a lot like Hill (at times), only with better chops. Not that Moran is a better musician than Hill, but it's hard to deny that Moran has better technical chops than Hill -- and hearing Hill's concepts (or at least something quite similar, in Moran), but in the somewhat 'cleaner' context of Moran's (for lack of a better term) "cleaner playing" -- really helped me dig Hill more deeply.

That's my story...

And Big Al, by all means, do check out the new one – "Passing Ships" – which I think is the best Hill date of any he recorded between 1967 and 1970.

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I dig hill but on a much more limited scale than most here. To me, "Passing Ships" and his work on "Dialogue" are my favorites.

I have a pretty short attention span when it comes to "working" on listening to what music has to say to me. Either I like it or not. Not much has changed for me with Hill's work. But perhaps some day it will.

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Also check out the Shades cd with Clifford Jordan. It still might be available somewhere. Look for his other mid 80's Soul Note discs as well.

I only heard "Shades" for the very first time a few months ago. But I would really have to give it pretty high marks as far as being a Hill recording from the 80's or 90's that's both 'fairly approachable' -- and also 'quite beautiful'.

Actually, I wish I hadn't overlooked it for so long, because it would have been a good album for me to cut my teeth on, as far as starting to get into Hill's music and concepts.

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The minute I heard BLACK FIRE I knew I had found a new favorite artist.

Can we talk a little more about Hill's solo recitals? I think, in the main, his solo work is terribly, terribly interesting, and somewhat neglected in the context of his overall recorded output. These solo recitals, however, have been and continue to be (for me, anyway) a major component of Hill's overall musical contribution, especially since his tenure with Blue Note ended in the early 70's.

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From California With Love

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Edited by Joe

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Berkshire Record Outlet has Spiral available on CD for $3.99. Hard to go wrong at that price. I would also recommend the Live in Montrux disc, also on Freedom, which I have seen available at Berkshire from time to time. There is also a nice live solo set available for free download on his website. All three of these would be easy and inexpensive ways to start exploring his work.

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I have most of Hill's solo piano releases (expect "From California with Love" and "Les Trinitaires"), plus there's an hour of solo-piano on Hill's own web-site (HERE, go to the "mp3's" section, and it's right below the samples from "A Beautiful Day").

I love nearly all of Hill's solo-piano work, though I've had a tougher time getting into "Faces of Hope" (and I don't feel like I've really embraced it quite yet).

"Hommage" is great and surprisingly mellow (and deceptively simple, while being more complex than it lets on, I think). I put this on when my wife are drifting off to sleep sometimes (seriously!!) - so if that doesn't tell you how 'mellow' it is, nothing will.

"Live at Montreux" for some reason reminds me a little bit of Ellington's solo-piano recordings (or maybe Ellington reminds me of Hill :huh: ). And it's not just the one Ellington tune he covers on this disc - but rather the entire disc. And...

"Verona Rag" has some great stride-work on it (as I receall), and a couple very strong tunes as well.

Also, Hill has some extended solo-piano passages (or entire cuts) on a few of his other albums. If I remember right, the title track to "Divine Revelation" has a nearly 10-minute solo-piano intro (the tune is 25 minutes long), that is simply stunning.

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I really enjoy Hill solo recordings. . . perhaps more than with a group to be honest. I like his trio sides too. He's tremendously pianistic. . . he really knows the piano and even with group albums it is mainly his piano I listen to. It's different, and it commands attention.

I also have a recording (unofficial) of his with just a bassist that is very interesting.

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Hill retains an attraction even for people like myself who tend to prefer straightahead hard bop. I enjoy some avantgarde stuff so long as it's GOOD!! Andrew Hill sessions tend to be GOOD!!.

My first exposure to Hill was hearing the song, "Trippin" from SHADES on a radio program. I was blown away.

Next came POD, as it was accessible, and later on Grass roots, and LIft Every Voice and the costly triad, "Black Fire," "Judgement," and "Smokestack."

I also like Hill's work as sideman. Love those long Hill solos on Walt Dickerson, "To My Queen."

I identify with his Caribbean background as well, but that really doesn't have anything to do with his music.

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I identify with his Caribbean background as well, but that really doesn't have anything to do with his music.

Repeat after me. He's from Chicago. He's from Chicago. He's from Chicago.

I know, you've read a dozen times about him being born in Haiti (and you can do a Google search on "Andrew Hill Haiti" and get about 100 hits).

But seriously, he was born in Chicago. He just made up the "Haiti" part, and for a time even spelled his name "Hille" (on Jimmy Wood's "Conflict" - for instance), to make his name and background seem more exotic. Supposedly it was of some (perhaps only tiny) help to him in getting gigs, really early on - in the 50's mostly, I suspect.

I think I have at least half-a-dozen Hill CD's that cite his having been born in Haiti -- but it ain't true.

I think this is covered in the Mosaic booklet -- I'll have to dig it out later, and type up the "Haiti/Chicago" part.

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The expansiveness of Hill's solo piano music is what really impresses me. He is one of the great pianists when it comes to interacting with drummers, and yet his solo recitals seem to inhabit a very different, if parallel, rhythmic universe. Unlike, say, Monk and [bud] Powell, two of his great influences.

Its in the solo piano recitals that I really hear what Hill emant when he told A. B. Spellman how much he admired Debussy and Ravel in the liner notes to BLACK FIRE.

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I don't want to make too much of this, but I've always been impressed by Hill having studied briefly with Hindemith - a German classical composer who I've really grown to like over the years. I'm not sure I hear any similarities in their music (none, really), but I've always found it interesting that Hindemith saw something in Hill's early compositions, and encouraged him in various music ways.

Hey, anybody know about Hill having a Doctorate degree?? - presumably in music composition??? I know he taught for sometime at a college or university in Portland, OR. Where and when did he get the Doctorate?? Wouldn’t that imply that he had to have written a doctoral thesis????? Wouldn’t that maybe be an interesting read???

He was also a church musician for sometime in the 70's (presumably leading a choir, and playing on Sunday mornings -- the whole bit).

And (I think I remember reading this somewhere), didn't he do concerts in prisons in the 70's???

Man, oh, man -- somebody needs to write a book about this man. (My wife thinks I ought to write it - and occasionally I'm half tempted to take a stab at it.)

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True Story

Bought the Mosaic not long after it came out. Loved it. Burned separate CDs for Andrew! and the Sam Rivers sessions so I could listen to them straight through.

My 8 year old loves to draw. He uses my Mosaic boxes as easels. Whatever, I am pretty cool about it, never been a problem.

However, unknown to me, he takes one in the car to do some drawing "on the road". Somehow, someway, he freaking loses it. The whole box, with the CDs, booklet, etc.

Of course it was the Andrew Hill. :(

Eric

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Shit, I had half-forgotten about that story Eric. You still needin' burns of any of the Hill box?? Say the word, and I'll get right on it. I can make you a copy of the booklet too.

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SOURCE

Forty years on, this is your Haitian divorce

The pianist Andrew Hill is a jazz great with a mystery attached. He confesses all to Phil Johnson

12 May 2003

Everyone has their favourite figures whom fame has unfairly overlooked and jazz pianist and composer Andrew Hill is one of mine. When Hill arrived in New York at the beginning of the 1960s, he used to give piano lessons to a fellow exile from Chicago by the name of Herbie Hancock. Later on, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett would call round for advice, too. But at the end of the decade, after a scintillating series of albums for the Blue Note label had bridged the gap between bop and the avant-garde, Hill more or less disappeared from view. Now he's back, beginning a tour next week with his Anglo-American Big Band. This time round, Hill returns with some belated recognition behind him. Earlier this year, he was awarded the prestigious Danish Jazzpar prize. At the age of 65, Hill is suddenly a star.

There was certainly a lot to talk about when I met him in London last month, such as his professional debut – at the age of 14 – with Charlie Parker; or the story of how the classical composer Paul Hindemith gave him tips on music theory as he busked on the streets of Chicago. Then there was the time spent accompanying vocalist Dinah Washington, and his friendships with Eric Dolphy and Roland Kirk. But what I really wanted to know about was the Haitian question.

In the sleeve-notes for Hill's first album for Blue Note, Black Fire from 1963, the writer AB Spellman states that Hill was born in Port au Prince, Haiti, before moving to Chicago with his family at the age of four. This unusual Caribbean heritage was seized upon by critics and used to decode Hill's extravagant, poly-rhythmic, style and frequent excursions into Latin and Afro-Cuban metre. There were also questions of Negritude. Didn't the title of Black Fire refer to Toussaint L'Ouverture and the Haitian slave rebellion? And what about that quote from an old calypso? Wasn't there a definite lilt to his playing?

"I lied," Hill told me, a little shame-facedly. "I used to blame it on other people, but it was me, and AB Spellman was the one who helped me plot the crime. I was born in Chicago and had no interest in Haiti or patois, but that lie enabled me to get gigs on the college circuit, the Dave Brubeck thing, you know. People looked at jazz music as exotic and pretending you came from Haiti helped." Hill pauses for a long, Muttley-esque, laugh. "I'm not as pure as driven snow. It's just I've got more morally correct as I've grown older."

Hill's affinity for Latin music came, he says, as naturally as breathing. "If you grew up in an urban environment and liked music, you couldn't help hearing it. There were Cuban musicians in the neighbourhood and I got an opportunity to play with them at an early age. Like I said, all you had to do was go to the movies and you heard everything you needed to know about advanced harmony. Claude Thornhill [the composer whose experiments led to Miles Davis's Birth of the Cool] was on the radio. It was a learning situation that was more thorough than a university."

Though Hill's parents weren't especially musical – his father was a railway porter – they did own an old pianola. The young Andrew taught himself to play by stopping the piano roll and putting his fingers in the keys that remained depressed. He didn't realise that some of the performances were for four hands rather than two, which may account for his unusually chromatic style.

Later came the Hindemith incident. "I was on the streets in Brownsville where I'd do my accordion act and make some money", Hill says. "I was writing music on a brown paper bag and he [Hindemith, who taught nearby] asked what I was writing. It was musically correct but not in the correct conventions, so he offered some advice. After that, he would come by now and then and look at what I was doing, teaching me about symmetrical and asymmetrical ways of writing music."

Hill's retirements from recording and performing weren't due to the usual jazz reasons – drugs, drugs and drugs – but because he had begun to pursue a parallel academic career.

But in 1992, after a stint in California, he returned to New York with his new wife and resumed his jazz career.

An invitation to re-visit the repertoire of his classic 1964 album, Point of Departure in 1998, led to the formation of a new group, and that in turn led to the big band. Since then Hill has been writing like crazy. At the recent Jazzpar concert, he says ruefully, the organisers complained he'd prepared too much material. Perhaps they didn't know what a long time coming it had been.

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SOURCE [Also, from the date on Hill's website (where I got this link from), this interview appears to be from May 2000. -- Rooster]

A FIRESIDE CHAT WITH ANDREW HILL

Point of Departure is one of my favorite albums. So I have a high bias when it comes to Andrew Hill. This is my candid conversation with him, about the record, his years with Blue Note, and his upcoming record on the Palmetto label, as always, unedited and in his own words.

FRED JUNG: Let's start from the beginning.

ANDREW HILL: To my memory, I could play the piano as long as I've been talking. My formal lessons came at a later period. My first jazz recording I did was with, who did I do that with? I did it with David Shipp in the '50s, with Von Freeman.

FJ: You made your way to New York in the early '60s, do you recall how vibrant the scene was during that time?

ANDREW HILL: Oh, the scene was budding, Fred. There was a lot of what I call flowers on the scene because it was the zenith of jazz as a popular music. It came from a period where everyone who played music had heard music in their neighborhoods from black theatres where they had bands. It was the last of a period. It was almost like being there after the party. The party was over, but there was still a few things to be had.

FJ: How did your contract with Blue Note come about?

ANDREW HILL: I played on this Our Thing session with Joe Henderson. He invited me to the session and during the session, they approached me to start recording for them.

FJ: Point of Departure is such an important recording and has had an indelible impact upon generations of musicians, what are your thoughts looking back at that Blue Note recording thirty-five years later?

ANDREW HILL: This was still in the first year of my Blue Note recording contract. Eric (Dolphy) was playing at the Five Spot with Charlie Mingus. I thought I would get together with him and talk music and he was kind enough to work a few jobs with me and so I presented the idea to Blue Note and they bought it. At first Charles Lloyd was going to play tenor, but for reasons beyond anyone's control, except Charles, he couldn't make it. So consequently, Joe became tenor saxophonist. And Kenny Dorham, who could play almost anywhere, was good. And then, Tony Williams had come to town and everyone was talking about him. All of a sudden, there was a nucleus formed for the band and we just made two Blue Note rehearsals and went on and did the session.

FJ: I never knew Lloyd was originally slated for the tenor role. Point of Departure was so ahead of its time. I was listening to it the other day and the music is still fresh and explorative.

ANDREW HILL: Well, a lot of people say that, Fred, and I'm grateful they think that, but that was just the level that the music had gotten to, you know, risen to in the '60s. It wasn't an isolated, academic situation because there was a synergy with the jazz audiences at that time. There were no limitations. They give bebop more credit than it deserves, because bebop was not an academic situation. It was just something that the people could feel, Charlie Parker and then Monk.

FJ: For the extensive period of time you were with Blue Note, your recording output in comparison to others on the label is low, why did you not document more of your music?

ANDREW HILL: Well, as far as recording, I did my share of recordings, but I held back from recording too much and tried not to turn it into a gig situation, where it would loose its essence. I regret not having recorded with quite a few players during that period, but I always try to approach it not as a business because I saw people becoming jaded and stagnant. Like now, Fred, I'm back and all of the sudden, I allegedly have the hottest band on the scene for the moment. I'm lucky enough to be playing with a lot of newer, younger talent. There are always people you regret not having played with, but you just can't play with everyone and keep your creative edge.

FJ: Has being so reserved when it comes to recording, resulted in the longevity and consistency of your career?

ANDREW HILL: I can't analyze it, but I'm grateful, because even during the times when I wasn't in the marketplace, I was still performing concerts and was offered tenured teaching positions. I don't know what really happened, but I am grateful that it happened that way.

FJ: Give me your impression of Charles Tolliver.

ANDREW HILL: Well, I saw him playing with Jackie McLean at the time. I returned to Los Angeles in '64 and Charles was in town. He was living down the street and so we got to know each other and talk to each other, become friends. When I moved back to New York, I had a session that I used Charles on and he became part of the band that I had at the time.

FJ: And Greg Osby?

ANDREW HILL: I really like Greg. His approach then wasn't as precise as his approach now, but he had something new to offer, which I felt was valid.

FJ: What led to your musical sabbatical and to you working as a public school teacher in California?

ANDREW HILL: It was because I was in a hostage type situation that I taught. My deceased wife was dying and so consequently, I started teaching, but I was primarily leaning towards substitute work for one week out of the month because in California, when I was there, I got a lot of California Arts concerts and I was able to work one week out of the month and get what I needed. So teaching was just a chance for me to interface with the kids to see who they really are, because I was really trying to get a second masters in sociology. I would follow an incarcerated person in the prison. I would deal with their families through social services for a period. I could survey the effect on their children in the schools. When I was in California, I was pianist for the First Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, California. I've always been in music. There were just periods where I was more visible than other periods.

FJ: I bet you got a lot of flack about your leadership approach. You seemed secure enough within your presence as a leader, allowing members of your band to write compositions for the band.

ANDREW HILL: That was not a leadership approach, I was told, because the common philosophy is that if you have the ball, run with it. Don't give anyone else a break. Too much of one thing is like a monotone, no matter how great it is. I don't want that. I want a certain type of freshness and if I can't contribute it, then I look forward to the men in the band contributing it.

FJ: Who is in your new band?

ANDREW HILL: Let's see, it's Marty Ehrlich on reeds, Greg Tardy on tenor and reeds, and Ron Horton on trumpet, Nasheet Waits, he's a new edition, on drums, and Scott Colley on bass.

FJ: That's a heavy band. You have a new album slated for release later in the year on the Palmetto label with your new band.

ANDREW HILL: Well, the title of the album is Dusk. I really like the music that I recorded. I recorded for Palmetto to document the music, even though the group, every time we play, creates its own sound, my artistic neurosis won't allow me to continue with one formula forever, no matter how successful. The recording itself was an attempt to document a certain period of my life.

FJ: What other projects do you have on tap?

ANDREW HILL: I also have a two bass group that I have been working with. I don't know about my recording career. I don't know when I will be going in the studio again, not because of the absence of offers, it's just that at this period of my life, I'm happy to just be participatory. I figure these other things are just a matter of time and demand. I really don't know what the future holds, but I do look forward to certain opportunities that are revealing themselves. I have a duo coming up with Bobby Hutcherson at Lincoln Center in April. I have a duo with Archie Shepp at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, England. So all of the sudden, I'm getting all these incredible venues.

FJ: You will be out here in Los Angeles in a couple of weeks, doing a week at our Jazz Bakery, who will be with you?

ANDREW HILL: I'm bringing the rhythm section, Nasheet Waits on drums and Scott Colley on bass. Come by and see me, Fred, even if I sound bad (laughing).

FJ: What does Andrew Hill do to relax?

ANDREW HILL: I finally realized that my relaxation is practicing the piano and writing. I've tried to do other things, but I've learned through the decades, that this is what I enjoy, practicing music and writing.

Fred Jung is Editor-In-Chief and wondering who shot the sheriff. Comments? Email him.

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There was apparently an interview (or some sort of feature) about Andrew Hill in Cadence Magazine, Vol. 1, Issue #10 (probably from 1976, if I reading right).

Anybody have this, or better yet - know if this has been reproduced on-line anywhere???

What's it like?? Cadence supposedly has back issues, for $5 -- and surprisingly this isn't one that's sold-out yet.

Is this worth getting a hold of???

(CADENCE MAGAZINE Back Issues Page)

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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SOURCE

Forty years on, this is your Haitian divorce

The pianist Andrew Hill is a jazz great with a mystery attached. He confesses all to Phil Johnson

12 May 2003

Everyone has their favourite figures whom fame has unfairly overlooked and jazz pianist and composer Andrew Hill is one of mine. When Hill arrived in New York at the beginning of the 1960s, he used to give piano lessons to a fellow exile from Chicago by the name of Herbie Hancock. Later on, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett would call round for advice, too. But at the end of the decade, after a scintillating series of albums for the Blue Note label had bridged the gap between bop and the avant-garde, Hill more or less disappeared from view. Now he's back, beginning a tour next week with his Anglo-American Big Band. This time round, Hill returns with some belated recognition behind him. Earlier this year, he was awarded the prestigious Danish Jazzpar prize. At the age of 65, Hill is suddenly a star.

There was certainly a lot to talk about when I met him in London last month, such as his professional debut – at the age of 14 – with Charlie Parker; or the story of how the classical composer Paul Hindemith gave him tips on music theory as he busked on the streets of Chicago. Then there was the time spent accompanying vocalist Dinah Washington, and his friendships with Eric Dolphy and Roland Kirk. But what I really wanted to know about was the Haitian question.

In the sleeve-notes for Hill's first album for Blue Note, Black Fire from 1963, the writer AB Spellman states that Hill was born in Port au Prince, Haiti, before moving to Chicago with his family at the age of four. This unusual Caribbean heritage was seized upon by critics and used to decode Hill's extravagant, poly-rhythmic, style and frequent excursions into Latin and Afro-Cuban metre. There were also questions of Negritude. Didn't the title of Black Fire refer to Toussaint L'Ouverture and the Haitian slave rebellion? And what about that quote from an old calypso? Wasn't there a definite lilt to his playing?

"I lied," Hill told me, a little shame-facedly. "I used to blame it on other people, but it was me, and AB Spellman was the one who helped me plot the crime. I was born in Chicago and had no interest in Haiti or patois, but that lie enabled me to get gigs on the college circuit, the Dave Brubeck thing, you know. People looked at jazz music as exotic and pretending you came from Haiti helped." Hill pauses for a long, Muttley-esque, laugh. "I'm not as pure as driven snow. It's just I've got more morally correct as I've grown older."

Hill's affinity for Latin music came, he says, as naturally as breathing. "If you grew up in an urban environment and liked music, you couldn't help hearing it. There were Cuban musicians in the neighbourhood and I got an opportunity to play with them at an early age. Like I said, all you had to do was go to the movies and you heard everything you needed to know about advanced harmony. Claude Thornhill [the composer whose experiments led to Miles Davis's Birth of the Cool] was on the radio. It was a learning situation that was more thorough than a university."

Though Hill's parents weren't especially musical – his father was a railway porter – they did own an old pianola. The young Andrew taught himself to play by stopping the piano roll and putting his fingers in the keys that remained depressed. He didn't realise that some of the performances were for four hands rather than two, which may account for his unusually chromatic style.

Later came the Hindemith incident. "I was on the streets in Brownsville where I'd do my accordion act and make some money", Hill says. "I was writing music on a brown paper bag and he [Hindemith, who taught nearby] asked what I was writing. It was musically correct but not in the correct conventions, so he offered some advice. After that, he would come by now and then and look at what I was doing, teaching me about symmetrical and asymmetrical ways of writing music."

Hill's retirements from recording and performing weren't due to the usual jazz reasons – drugs, drugs and drugs – but because he had begun to pursue a parallel academic career.

But in 1992, after a stint in California, he returned to New York with his new wife and resumed his jazz career.

An invitation to re-visit the repertoire of his classic 1964 album, Point of Departure in 1998, led to the formation of a new group, and that in turn led to the big band. Since then Hill has been writing like crazy. At the recent Jazzpar concert, he says ruefully, the organisers complained he'd prepared too much material. Perhaps they didn't know what a long time coming it had been.

Thanks for this post, Rooster.

Actually, I was aware that Hill was born in Chicago, but I thought his parents came from Haiti. Is that true or not? No mention of that in the article. :ph34r:

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True Story

Bought the Mosaic not long after it came out. Loved it. Burned separate CDs for Andrew! and the Sam Rivers sessions so I could listen to them straight through.

My 8 year old loves to draw. He uses my Mosaic boxes as easels. Whatever, I am pretty cool about it, never been a problem.

However, unknown to me, he takes one in the car to do some drawing "on the road". Somehow, someway, he freaking loses it. The whole box, with the CDs, booklet, etc.

Of course it was the Andrew Hill. :(

Eric

Hey, I want to nominate you for Dad of the Year!

What other Dad would let his 8-year old take his Andrew Hill Mosaic set on the road as an easel?

Now that is fatherly love! ;)

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I listened to "Lift Every Voice" nearly twice tonight. (Hey, when you're making dinner, and have stuff all over your hands -- it's just easier to hit the play button again - and with your elbow, of course. ;) )

Man, there is some really damn amazing music to be found on this disc. Both sessions are top drawer, with some really fine soloing from Hill (of course), but especially Woody Shaw and Lee Morgan. I really don't think there's a context I'm more happy to hear them in than with Hill. Sure, I totally love their work in lots of other contexts (and especially their own dates). But I think Hill brought out a side of each of them that was truly unique. (As did Larry Young, with Lee Morgan on "Mother Ship".)

Yes, "Lift Every Voice" is - strickly speaking - more 'accessable' than much of Hill's early work (between 63 and 66). But, really, in many ways it's still some pretty darn challenging music.

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I don't want to make too much of this, but I've always been impressed by Hill having studied briefly with Hindemith - a German classical composer who I've really grown to like over the years. I'm not sure I hear any similarities in their music (none, really), but I've always found it interesting that Hindemith saw something in Hill's early compositions, and encouraged him in various music ways.

Hey, anybody know about Hill having a Doctorate degree?? - presumably in music composition??? I know he taught for sometime at a college or university in Portland, OR. Where and when did he get the Doctorate?? Wouldn’t that imply that he had to have written a doctoral thesis????? Wouldn’t that maybe be an interesting read???

He was also a church musician for sometime in the 70's (presumably leading a choir, and playing on Sunday mornings -- the whole bit).

And (I think I remember reading this somewhere), didn't he do concerts in prisons in the 70's???

Man, oh, man -- somebody needs to write a book about this man. (My wife thinks I ought to write it - and occasionally I'm half tempted to take a stab at it.)

From a Hill bio I found on-line...

"He became a music educator after earning a doctorate from Colgate University in the early 1970s and in 1977 moved to the West Coast where he taught in California prisons and public schools while continuing to occasionally tour and record for various independent labels."

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Yes, "Lift Every Voice" is - strickly speaking - more 'accessable' than much of Hill's early work (between 63 and 66). But, really, in many ways it's still some pretty darn challenging music.

Yeah, but how much vocal stuff is on it? I think that's what scares me the most! :unsure:

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Took a minute to find sound-samples, but HERE they are. Sounds like the first 60-seconds, of each of the first 5 tracks of the disc.

In most cases, the vocals (often worldless) only sing 'the head' of the tune, and ocasssionally some vocal restatement of the 'head' (or some variation) as a transition between a couple of the solos within the tune,

I could probably listen to the disc with stop-watch in hand, and give you an exact percentage of "music with vocals" vs. "music without vocals" for the whole disc. But off the top of my head, I would guess that roughly 20% of the music on the disc has vocals, and 80% does not. Yes, there are vocals on every tune (on both sessions), but they are not 'on top' of the solos (or at least 95% of the time they aren't).

I didn't know what to make of "Life Every Voice" until I had heard it a dozen or more times. But after a while, the voices just become part of the concept - and they really don't detract from the disc at all. I'm not saying go spend top-dollar for it, but if you ever get the chance to buy it for a reasonable price - take a chance.

(Again, here are some sound samples from the first 5 tracks: HERE at Amazon.com, in case the link is screwed-up).

Also, you might notice at that same link that there are like a dozen used and even new copies available through Amazon's 'used CD' marketplace, or whatever they call it. And about half-a-dozen (even a couple new ones) are in the $9-$12 range (not including shipping).

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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