164

Andrew Hill: A Beautiful Day

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Andrew Hill: A Beautiful Day "There is plenty going on," designated cheerleader Stanley Crouch informs the reader, on composer / pianist Andrew Hill's latest album, A Beautiful Day, which showcases Hill's sixteen-piece big band in a concert performance last January at New York's famed Birdland nightclub. "With a vision given to great plasticity," Crouch writes, "[Hill] has found his own ways to reinterpret 4/4 swing, the blues, the romantic or meditative ballad, and the Afro-Hispanic rhythms that have almost invariably connected one generation of Jazz musicians to those who preceded them . . .[he] loves to imply the obvious and allude to the profound as much as he enjoys any particular form or groove." In other words, the more impenetrable the prose, the less likely it is that the band will swing. Granted, Hill is a respected musician - has been for years - so he must surely have a game plan.

While some may find his approach to big-band composition fresh and exhilarating, others (this listener included) may be left scratching their heads and wondering what the - is happening. There is, as Crouch affirms, "plenty going on." The question is, exactly what does it mean? There is ample huffing and puffing, banging and braying, but to what purpose? There's not much in the way of engaging melody anywhere to be found, nor is there any indication of a steady rhythmic pulse that one can readily put his or her finger on.

On the other hand, if one wishes to ascertain the upper and lower limits of the baritone sax, he (or she) need only listen to J.D. Parron's over-the-top discourse on "J Di." Hill's "Divine Revelation" is more earthy than sacred, while "A Beautiful Day" is besmirched by murky ensemble passages and tedious solos by tenor Greg Tardy, trumpeter Dave Ballou and altos Marty Ehrlich and John Savage. "Faded Beauty" does have its moments (lovely flute work by Savage, appropriately restrained comments by Ehrlich, on bass clarinet, and Hill) but "Bellezza," after an auspicous start, quickly jumps the track and careens wildly toward adversity, escorted by trumpeter Ron Horton and tubaist Jose D'Avila.

"5 Mo" takes up where "Bellezza" left off, with brass, reeds and rhythm producing an abundance of noise but not much entertaining music (our opinion, of course, as is everything else in this review; please listen for yourself and draw your own conclusions). Hill does have a well-developed sense of humor, we're told, which may account for why the album's cover photo is upside down. Even more meaningful, to me, is Crouch's assertion that Hill approaches the work of composition "using the improvisational languages of John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman and Don Ellis" - I never understood any of them either.

Contact: Palmetto Records, 71 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011 (phone 1-800-PALMCDS; www.palmetto-records.com).


Track Listing: Divine Revelation, Faded Beauty, Bellezza, 5 Mo, New Pinnochio, J Di, A Beautiful Day, 11/8

Personnel: Andrew Hill

Title: A Beautiful Day | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Palmetto Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Float The Edge CD/LP/Track Review Float The Edge
by John Sharpe
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Resonance CD/LP/Track Review Resonance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Black Focus CD/LP/Track Review Black Focus
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Birdhoused CD/LP/Track Review Birdhoused
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "avantNOIR" CD/LP/Track Review avantNOIR
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Oddara" CD/LP/Track Review Oddara
by James Nadal
Published: October 15, 2016
Read "Away With You" CD/LP/Track Review Away With You
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 9, 2016
Read "Light Shines In" CD/LP/Track Review Light Shines In
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 2, 2016
Read "Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder" CD/LP/Track Review Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder
by Doug Collette
Published: August 17, 2016
Read "Landed in Brooklyn" CD/LP/Track Review Landed in Brooklyn
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 3, 2017

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!