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Jose Reyes

Album Feature: Andrew Hill’s “Dance with Death”

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Here’s another great and underrated album from Jazz pianist Andrew Hill and with an excellent collection of talent around him. The name of the album is “Dance with Death” and will be featured here on Jazz Con Class for a week or so, then placed on the “Avant-Garde” playlist permanently. Check the schedule link for play times.

More on the album:

Andrew Hill’s Dance of Death, recorded in 1968 with a stellar band, was not issued until 1980. In the late 1960s, Blue Note was no longer the most adventurous of jazz labels. While certain titles managed to scrape through — Eddie Gale’s Ghetto Music did but only because Francis Wollf personally financed it — many didn’t. The label was firmly in the soul-jazz groove by then, and Hill’s music, always on the edge, was deemed too outside for the label’s roster. Musically, this is Hill at his most visionary. From hard- and post bop frames come modal and tonal inquiries of staggering complexity. Accompanied by trumpeter Charles Tolliver, saxophonist Joe Farrell, drummer Billy Higgins and bassist Victor Sproles, Hill engages, seemingly, all of his muses at once. Check out the sinister modal blues that is “Fish ‘N’ Rice” with its loping Eastern-tinged blues and loping horn lines around Hill’s knotty fills in the head and choruses…….Learn More

I found this review of the Album:

In a little over seven years beginning in ’63, pianist Andrew Hill recorded over a dozen albums as a leader for Blue Note, yet it is only in recent years that the importance of these recordings is being recognized. Although he was overshadowed at the time by more eminently approachable pianists including Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner, the truth is that while Hill’s somewhat more oblique style kept him from reaching a broader audience, time and Blue Note’s reissue of several key Hill recordings are painting a picture of an artist who created a complex world of rhythms and harmonies, examining music on the left without losing sight of memorable thematic constructs and clever, shifting grooves…….Read More

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About Andrew Hill (from his official website):

Andrew Hill (b. Chicago, Illinois, June 30, 1931 – d. Jersey City, NJ, April 20, 2007) was a prolific and enigmatic pianist and composer whose music has proved to be unfailingly unique, sensual, magical, and ever changing. His influence on succeeding generations of jazz musicians and composers is strongly felt – even at his most elliptical and puzzling, he was a communicator of the highest order. Andrew’s methods of playing and composing were concentrated on being in the present; he didn’t care for living in the past, or “retrospectively”, as he would say.

At one of our first meetings, I told Andrew that I’d love to get my hands on some of his compositions. “So would I,” was his reply. I didn’t yet know him well, and figured he was just giving me the brush-off, but a few months later he was back in New York and called to ask if I had any transcriptions of his tunes, saying he’d lost them in various moves. Ron Horton and I had each transcribed a number of his compositions, so I met him a few hours later at a coffee shop in Greenwich Village and he got his hands on some of his tunes after all. He didn’t hang on to things, even his own charts; written music, LPs and CDs were simply fodder for a creative musical life. For Andrew, music was a living, breathing thing, always in flux, and always resistant to codification, stagnation, or anything of the kind……Learn More

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