All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

590

Andrew Hill: Dance With Death

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
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.

Groove may not be a word that comes immediately to mind when thinking of Hill, but one listen to the lightly funky "Fish 'n Rice" and the more subtly insistent pulse of both versions of the title track included on the recently reissued Dance With Death and it becomes clear that Hill is as capable of captivating rhythms as he is more complex shifts. His more challenging side is in evidence on the aptly-named "Partitions," where the piece is broken up into discrete segments of varying tempi that still manage to hang together as a conceptual whole. Hill's time sense, with front-line instruments seeming to follow each other as they walk through the complicated theme of the balladic "Love Nocturne" until they eventually converge, is more elastic, less rigid than many of his contemporaries.

Hill's sometimes convoluted compositions could sound clumsy in the wrong hands, but as was the case on '64's classic Point of Departure , Hill has surrounded himself with a stunning, albeit generally less well-known lineup. Woodwind multi-instrumentalist Joe Farrell, who would achieve his greatest success with Chick Corea a few years down the road, was already an established player with a robust tenor sound and a less nasal soprano sound than Coltrane, and would go on to grace Hill's more overtly ambitious '69 date, Passing Ships . Charles Tolliver, whose thick trumpet tone differentiated him from other fine contemporaries like Woody Shaw, never achieved the level of attention he deserved, although he is featured on many fine recordings by artists including Horace Silver, Jackie McLean and Booker Ervin, and released a number of intriguing albums as a leader in the '70s. Bassist Victor Sproles may be the least-known member of the quintet, but he possesses an approach not unlike Ron Carter's and, along with drummer Billy Higgins, the best-known player on the session, he navigates the challenging meters without losing sight of the inherent swing of the material, most notably on "Yellow Violet."

Meanwhile Hill the pianist solos with an intriguing combination of lyricism and odd eccentricity. Dance With Death may not be the unequivocal masterpiece that Point of Departure is, nor is it as monumentally ambitious as Passing Ships , but it comes close—an outstanding small ensemble work that continues to demonstrate what people have been missing and are only now beginning to realize.


Track Listing: Yellow Violet; Partition; Fish 'n Rice; Dance With Death; Love Nocturne; Black Sabbath; Dance With Death (alt tk)

Personnel: Charles Tolliver (trumpet), Joe Farrell (tenor sax, soprano sax), Andrew Hill (piano), Victor Sproles (bass), Billy Higgins (drums)

Title: Dance With Death | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

My Blue Note Obsession
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Andrew Hill: Solos - The Jazz Sessions

Andrew Hill: Solos -...

Original Spin Music
2013

buy
Point Of Departure

Point Of Departure

Blue Note Records
2011

buy
Change

Change

Blue Note Records
2008

buy
 

Mosaic Select 16

Mosaic Records
2007

buy
 

Mosaic Select 23

Mosaic Records
2007

buy

Related Articles

Read For Gyumri CD/LP/Track Review
For Gyumri
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Sextet (Parker) 1993 CD/LP/Track Review
Sextet (Parker) 1993
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Esperanto/Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim CD/LP/Track Review
Esperanto/Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim
by Kevin Press
Published: February 19, 2018
Read 9 CD/LP/Track Review
9
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Orientation CD/LP/Track Review
Orientation
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Romaria CD/LP/Track Review
Romaria
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 18, 2018
Read "Live" CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "Some Other Time/Slow Café" CD/LP/Track Review Some Other Time/Slow Café
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 28, 2017
Read "Originals For the Originals" CD/LP/Track Review Originals For the Originals
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "The Great Nostalgist" CD/LP/Track Review The Great Nostalgist
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 29, 2017
Read "Compassion: The Music Of John Coltrane" CD/LP/Track Review Compassion: The Music Of John Coltrane
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 3, 2017
Read "A Woman's Journey" CD/LP/Track Review A Woman's Journey
by Jerome Wilson
Published: January 28, 2018