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 (61:28).

Personnel: Andrew Hill, leader, piano; Ron Horton, Dave Ballou, Laurie Frinck, Bruce Staalens, trumpet; Charlie Gordon, Joe Fiedler, Mike Fahn, trombone; Jose d'Avila, tuba; John Savage, alto sax, flute; Marty Ehrlich, alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute; Aaron Stewart, tenor sax; Greg Tardy, tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet; J.D. Parron, baritone sax, bass clarinet; Scott Colley, bass; Nasheet Waits, drums.

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Palmetto Records | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Rumbler" CD/LP/Track Review Rumbler
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "Cinema Spiral" CD/LP/Track Review Cinema Spiral
by John Sharpe
Published: August 9, 2016
Read "Slag" CD/LP/Track Review Slag
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 29, 2017
Read "Soul’s Journey Home" CD/LP/Track Review Soul’s Journey Home
by Jim Olin
Published: February 27, 2016
Read "Sir Nebula" CD/LP/Track Review Sir Nebula
by Doug Collette
Published: September 18, 2016
Read "Sketches on the Radio" CD/LP/Track Review Sketches on the Radio
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 14, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!