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Andrew Hill: Where do you personally rank him


Rooster_Ties

Compared w/ other jazz pianists/composers (who have come on the scene since 1950), where do YOU rank Andrew Hill??? (Based on your own personally ranking system - NOT based on where you think he 'should' be ranked)  

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Just curious, so I thought I’d start another odd poll.

I thought I'd ask what others here thought of Hill (generally), since today I talked to a well-respected semi-pro jazz pianist here in Kansas City. And when I mentioned Andrew Hill to him - the guy said I was the first person in the last 10 years that ever mentioned Hill to him. And another younger jazz pianist friend of mine (in his late 20's) barely knew of Hill at all, other than he thought he'd heard "Point of Departure" once, maybe. And this guy (the second guy) is steeped in a ton in 20th Century classical composers, and quite a bit of various jazz-piano too.

So then -- I know, I know -- Hill is obscure. But sometimes I forget how damn obscure he is, even to people who know quite a lot of modern (post 1960) jazz. But, it's hard for me to remember how obscure he is, when I hold his music in such high regard.

Or, perhaps to phrase my poll question a bit differently (in a way that can’t be answered by a poll):

What does Andrew Hill's music mean to you???

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Great topic, Rooster.

Right now I'm grooving to Jimmy Smith, "The Master," and really enjoying it. Hill seems so far away.

I rank him in my personal top 10.

I like him because....

--He composes and plays with a remarkable degree of individuality.

--He doesn't have the technique of many others (such as Cecil Taylor) but his compositions are so honest.

--His family came from Haiti and I was born in the Caribbean.

--To me, he represents much of Chicago jazz.

--His stuff is complex but it grows upon you the more you listen. He is challenging but worth it. No fakery.

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I like Hill, but honestly don't understand much of his music. I'm not that evolved yet musically speaking. Give me Wynton Kelly or Monk or Bud or Sonny Clark. I'm just that sort of person. Meat and potatoes. Although I really respect and admire Hill. Also, I do LOVE several of his records. So, he's probably within the top 20 for me, but that's about it.

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Guest GregM

I understand his harmonic sense a lot better than his rhythmic sense. Frankly, his sense of rhythm seemed sophomoric to me, but I'm open to the idea that I can't hear what he was really going for. And I think the melodic ideas of his tunes in the 60s were often glossed over and not fully developed, but that was obviously his style--to focus more on harmonic innovations and rhythmic srategies. There are easily more than 20 artists I like better, so I couldn't rate him that highly in the poll, but I do think very highly of him and am actually haunted by the beauty of his playing on several albums. POD isn't one of them.

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I put him easily in my top 20, being really close to the top 10...being edged out by a few more individualistic performers, but mainly thinking in terms of composition.

That being said, a few (not many, but a few) of his records leave me feeling very cold. His worst material has an almost stuffy, austere glean to it, so that puts him out of my personal top 10. Even some of his best stuff has an emotional detachemnt that to some might appear to be a turn-off.

Still I have to give him credit to sticking to his very personal, idiosyncratic style and not selling out or going "Fusion" in the 70's at the cost of whatever monetary rewards he might have wanted to chase. He's still doing what he has always done at around age 65, so thats gotta count for something.

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I voted him to be in my Top 5 but my Top 5 list has about 25 artists in it. ;)

that's why I (honestly, for a change) voted top 20.

His early Blue Notes and his recent work I like very much, but listen to less, I have to admit. From the seventies and eighties I don't know much of Hill's recordings (Spiral and Eternal Spirit are the only ones I've got).

I like his compositions as well as his piano style. It's a very unique style of music he creates. However I can relate to feeling it to be a little cold or detached sometimes.

He seems to be the last in the row of the great 40ies' and 50ies' piano innovators (Monk, Bud, Herbie Nichols come to mind).

ubu

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when will we hear what the correct answer is??

the shape of the poll will reflect more on the nature of the board than AH's greatness or otherwise. I voted for him being amongst the top 5 pianist, on the basis of the joy I get from his playing and compostions. Roll on October

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Andrew's easily in my top five (which is actually only five people! ;) ). One thing that puts him higher up on the list for me is his very memorable compositions. Albums like Judgment, Andrew!!!, and Point of Departure are great examples of this, and are some of my favorite albums that I can turn to in my jazz collection when I want something familiar.

I'll be seeing Andrew this coming Sunday at the Iowa City Jazz Festival - can't wait! :)

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I see I am the first to put him ahead of Ornette. :D

Remember that I was, but still am deep in my heart, the Gene Harris Fanatic. Can't get much further away from Gene than Andrew Hill (though there are surely many others who are equidistant from Gene, but in different ways than Hill).

Black Fire is the only release of his I have, and I do dig it, but the other dates I have heard just do not appeal. Too off kilter, I guess. I also have several of his sideman BN appearances and enjoy those.

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Not among my top pianists. Andrew is for me someone to admire for his abilities as a leader, composer, arranger and, yes a pianist within the group. His solo recordings and concerts have never appealed to me, a lot of it tends to ramble, he sounds far better with a strong rhythm section to focus his playing for the listener. That said he's made some great records.

Favourite pianists include Sonny Clark, Horace Silver through to Kenny Werner, Paul Bley, John Hicks and Martial Solal.

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No rating for me, but I dig the cat muchly. Great writer, great player, totally personal in both regards. If I had to "define" what he was all about, I'd say blurring the lines between literalness and abstraction, finding that "in-between" zone where nothing, and therefore everything, is REALLY real or false.

If you could hear a Monet waterlilly painting of Monk's music, that might give you something approaching Andrew Hill. Stupid analogy, I know, but there it is.

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I place him in any unnumbered list I have of favorite piano players (a long list), easily, because, as Jim says, he is so personal a player. Hearing BLACK FIRE for the first time was, for me, a quite profound experience. I was and still am so impressed and intrigued by the complex interplay of emotions, light-and-sahde, and figures in Hill's playing. I agree too that he has often ebenfited from great rhythm accompanists: Richard Davis, Cecil McBee, Alan Silva, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, Joe Chambers, Freddie Waits. By the same token, it takes a very intelligent and sensitive bandleader to put together bands like that! Hill's compositional craft I hold in even higher regard, and it is pretty amazing to me that not only can this guy write this stuff, but also improvise on it. I put him in the same league as Herbie Nichols, Mal Waldron, Elmo Hope, Ran Blake...

I'm not sure the "Blue Note" / RVG sound really ever did him any favors, or he became a player of much greater subtlety in the 70's. The solo recitals that became a regular practice for him in that decade reveal a much more "pianistic" player than the idiosyncratic, Monk-and-Silver-inflected abstractionist (I see Franz Kline or Philip Guston) of BLACK FIRE, JUDGMENT, SMOKESTACK, ANDREW!, etc. To assuage my own doubts about this impression, I like to A/B those early works with records like VERONA RAG, LIKE AT MONTREUX, FROM CALIFORNIA WITH LOVE and even the recent LES TRINITAIRES.

g070_guston_zone.jpg

Edited by Joe
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I'm sort of on the Dan Gould side. I'm much closer musically to Gene Harris than Andrew Hill and I'd describe myself much more in the school of Bud Powell, Sonny Clark and Wynton Kelly. I'm closer to that school. He doesn't do much for me. So, if I had to rank the pianists, he wouldn't be up there but after a couple of listenings I did enjoy Grass Roots and I'll take a chance on the reissue that's coming out later this year.

Just because others may feel differently, you shouldn't let that affect how you feel about him.

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I had to put him in the numero Uno spot.

PoD was a revelation for me. It was one of those records that I didn't really "get" my first couple times through. At the time, however, some intense and difficult things were going on in my life. Each time I went back to PoD during this time, I heard more and more emotion peeking through. Tension, frustration, sadness, all things I could and can relate to. Through Hill's advanced harmonic sense and sometimes rhythmic and tonal ambiguity, he grabs me and shows me what's going on in his head; his mood and attitude, dark, uncertainty.

From PoD I scored a copy of Black Fire from Ebay and that was like being smacked with a golf club to the face. SO intense.

Not to discount any other piano players like Herbie or Sonny Clark, Wynton Kelly, Hill's output is what I've heard the most of recently and I relate his music to my own personal struggles.

Number One for me. B)

Edited by Templejazz
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I am not sure whether the poll is where does Hill rank compared to other pianists solely, or where he ranks among artists in general. With that said I can conservatively say that Hill is one of my top five favrotie jazz artists of all time - and it would be only five artists. It is not just his piano playing (which I do enjoy), but a combination of his musicianship, composing and band leading. Simply, IMO Hill is one of the most significant jazz artists to emerge in the past 50 years. I enjoy all of his music from the recordings on Blue Note up to his recent Palmetto releases and everything in between. By the way, if you have not heard it, his Soul Note album Shades must be considered one of the best albums of the eighties and it is also the album that introduced me to Hill. I purchased the LP when I was first starting my investigation of jazz based on a five star review it received from Down Beat. It is worth every star it received and it remains one of my favorite recordings - not just favorite among Andrew Hill recordings - ever.

I have also been fortunate to hear Hill perform live on a number of occassions with various personnel and have never left not feeling like I have witnessed anything less than a near historic event. In addition I have also acquired a number of unreleased concert performances featuring Hill and have found them all to be consistently fascinating.

If it is not clear yet I will state it clearly. I am an Andrew Hill fanatic. All comments by me should be considered with that fact in mind.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to go on record with my appreciation of this wonderful musician.

Edited by relyles
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Not into the artist ranking thing for many reasons, but I really feel Hill is a giant. One could hear his rhythmic approach as sophomoric, as has been commented, but one can also interpret him as a master in that realm. He can really get "micrometric," to use a word I coined talking about Mobley recently, one of the greatest in that sense - subdividing and then sub-subdividing the beat, displacing accents, etc. Jim makes some nice analogies. For me it's even beyond the impressionism comparison though, given the degree of precision in his subdivisions - I say he's almost an aural pointillist. For that reason, I find that "standing back" figuratively, with my listening, and letting the whole thing hit me at a visceral level results in supreme enjoyment, much more than trying to tease out each of those very finely graded moves he's making.

I like Hill in just about every setting - solo, big band, trio, small groups. He excels in every environment, and still sounds totally like himself whether it's just him or a bunch of guys along for the ride.

In fact, this discussion has inspired me to change album covers for the week...to one of my favorites of all time (not just the artist, but the art itself - what a perfect encapsulation of that dark, shaded undertone in even Hill's most jubilant music!).

Edited by DrJ
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Guest mary mcgoon

I voted top 5, though that kind of thing changes day to day.

I probably dig him more as a composer than a pianist, but I think his music has an incredible amount of depth. You can listen to it repeatedly and not get bored because there are new things, new relationships between the parts, to discover all the time.

Like much of my favorite music, his stuff straddles the line between "in" and "out", which I guess is a dumbed-down version of what JSngry said.

I think he's up there in Ellington / Monk / Nichols territory.

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