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Theo Hill: Interstellar Adventures

Mike Jurkovic By

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Theo Hill: Interstellar Adventures
Hot on the heels of his heralded 2017 effort Promethean, the five covers and five originals on his latest Interstellar Adventures serve as rousing calling-cards for Theo Hill as he continues his steady, determined ascent into the contemporary ranks of vital and inspired jazz pianists.

With the exciting, percussive talents of bassist Rashaan Carter and drummer Rudy Royston seemingly joined at the hip with the leader, the opening title-track is an enticing, melodic reverie in the standard trio vein; throughout the tune's delicious five-plus minutes, it brings to the fore Hill's deep understanding of melody and how to build tension and release within it. Tony Williams' energetic, Miles' Quintet-era "Black Comedy" jumps early and often, its stop-start arrangement perfectly suited to Carter & Royston's lengthy CVs. Hill highlights it all here, his adventurous right hand holding and jettisoning William's punchy melody, while his left explores a harder edge. "Retrograde" finds Hill on electric piano for some snappy, poppy swing. Royston is essential here, percolating behind the leader like those old Return to Forever days.

Two of the lengthier cuts, "The Comet" and "Gyre,"—both Hill originals—shine more light on the pianist's many strengths, nuance and assured tonality among them. "The Comet" is all percussion, Hill's left hitting as hard as Royston, with Carter driving both onward. "Gyre," like "Interstellar Adventures," starts with a strong melodic interlude before giving way to full-throttle trio interplay. The trio rolls truthfully on Jan Hammer's "Thorn of a White Rose," giving a far-less cluttered rendering here than the excessive mid-70's fusion provided the song originally. Mulgrew Miller's "For Those Who Do," taken at a languid pace, serves to reveal Hill's quiet, old-school tendencies for romantic flair. With Hill back on his electric piano, this exciting session closes with his restive "Enchanted Forest," giving the listener a quiet moment to take in all that's been heard, before pressing repeat play.

Track Listing

Interstellar Adventures; Black Comedy; Retrograde; Cyclic Episode; The Comet; Gyre; Thorn of a White Rose; Revelations; For Those Who Do; Enchanted Forest

Personnel

Theo Hill - acoustic and electric piano; Rashaan Carter - acoustic and electric bass; Rudy Royston - drums and percussion

Album information

Title: Interstellar Adventures | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

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