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Andrew Hill: Change

Troy Collins By

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Completed only five months after Compulsion (Blue Note, 1965), pianist Andrew Hill's creative free-form breakthrough, this quartet session was recorded, edited, titled and cataloged, but never officially released under his own name. Unceremoniously shelved at the time, like a number of recent reissues documenting Hill's more experimental 1960s work, the six principle cuts were eventually issued under Sam Rivers' name as Involution (Blue Note, 1976). The two alternate takes were included in The Complete Blue Note Andrew Hill Sessions 1963-1966 (Mosaic, 1995).

Available for the first time in its entirety, the aptly title Change is a rich and complex collection reflecting the gradual shift in Hill's writing from advanced traditional structures to outré forms. One of the finest avant-garde Blue Note titles, it is representative of the then burgeoning inside-outside aesthetic embraced by fellow label-mates Sam Rivers, Cecil Taylor, Grachan Moncur III and Jackie McLean.

The quartet immediately demonstrates their intense rapport and compelling interaction on "Violence," the turbulent, labyrinthine opener. Drummer J.C. Moses unleashes torrents of spitfire percussion, while Sam Rivers spews bristling, circuitous fragments on tenor. Hill's singular contributions are cerebral and abstract, but also soulful, churning with propulsive energy. Bassist Walter Booker delivers a monolithic bass solo in the eye of the storm, as Hill quietly accompanies him with brittle harpsichord clusters.

The jaunty "Illusion" deconstructs a montuno form with irreverent charm, while "Hope" intensifies from somber reflection to roiling vigor over a bustling waltz rhythm. The foreboding "Desire" blends a mid-tempo 5/4 cadence with focused deliberation and searing lyricism.

Unveiling a genteel side, "Pain" and "Lust" are restrained trio excursions. The curiously titled, "Pain" works a light-hearted Monkish vibe, showcasing brilliant bass work from Booker, while "Lust" is downright romantic.

The alternate takes provide further insight into the quartet's working methods. "Violence" is compact and intense, while "Desire" is brisk and assertive.

Knotty, jagged and abstruse, Hill's music from this period can be difficult for mainstream listeners, but yields great rewards. A fascinating document in the discography of one of the most important jazz composers of the twentieth century, Change is an essential reissue.

Track Listing: Violence; Pain; Illusion; Hope; Lust; Desire; Violence (alt. tk.); Desire (alt. tk.).

Personnel: Andrew Hill: piano, harpsichord; Sam Rivers: tenor saxophone; Walter Booker: bass; J.C. Moses: drums.

Title: Change | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


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