Trying to locate a "primary genre" for Andrew Hill's music is no easy task, not least becauselike Monk, Herbie Nichols, and Pee Wee Russellhis music is so resolutely his own that the only frame of reference that can be applied to it is the music of the individual.
Hill produced a body of recordings for Blue Note that was notable not only for its individuality but also for its consistently high standard. This came about not least because musicians had to adapt to the demands of his compositions, not the other way around, and on this 1964 date the likes of vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson and drummer Joe Chambers show just how adaptable they could be and still retain their identities.
Thus a number like "Black Monday" is rich with a kind of autumnal lyricism, at the same time as it contains rhythmic hints of something else entirely; indeed, one of the characteristics of Hill's music has always been a mysterious quality that is nothing short of unique in jazz, and when players like tenor saxophonist John Gilmore bring their far from over-exposed talents to the party, as Gilmore perhaps most notably does on "No Doubt," the result is heady music indeed.
If there is one particular underlying quality beneath all of the music here, it is restraint. In lesser hands such an approach might signal a diminution in the potency of the music, but here this is not the case. Instead, that very restraint makes for a set that really brings out the individuality of Hill's compositions.
It could be argued in a broader context that Andrew Hill's music in its very being highlights the potentially anomalous position of African American creativity, but a CD review is hardly the ideal forum for such a discussion. What those with ears open for listening can do in the company of this music, however, is wonder positively over Hill's individuality and depth of expression.
Personnel: John Gilmore: tenor sax; Andrew Hill: piano; Bobby Hutcherson: vibraphone; Richard Davis:
bass; Joe Chambers: drums.