After having previously released all of Andrew Hill's 1963-66 work in a seven-CD set, and doling out previously unreleased gems from the Blue Note vaults one at a time, producer Michael Cuscuna has scraped every last piece of remaining music that Hill's fertile mind recorded for Alfred Lion and put it in this limited box set. Some of the finds are nuggets, others sound like scrapings.
The moods are roughly divided into thirds. One third is comprised of a hard-driving sextet with Charles Tolliver (trumpet), Pat Patrick, and Bennie Maupin (woodwinds) as the front line with Ron Carter (bass) and either Paul Motian or Ben Riley on drums. Recorded in '70, the music is aggressive, adventurous, and fairly free. Hill's writing and arranging are quite intriguing, with exotic melodies and moody ensembles keeping interest throughout the sessions. Tolliver, in particular, is in excellent form, and Maupin/Patrick use flutes and bass and alto clarinets in intriguing and evocative solos. This is the Hill session one comes to expect.
The '67 session is another story. This is comprised of two septets that are akin to a Wagnerian operaWoody Shaw (trumpet), Robin Kenyatta (alto), and Sam Rivers (soprano, tenor) screeching in a cacophonous blend of piercing pitches for over an hour. The ensemble passages are sloppy and rough, and except for the lovely "Now," the listener heaves a sigh of relief at the close of the CD.
And now the reason to hear this set: in '69 Hill juxtaposed his quartet (with either Maupin or Carlos Garnet on woodwinds) with a string ensemble to create what is possibly the most successful, artistic, and inspiring synthesis of jazz and strings ever. It is at least on par with the iconic Charlie Parker strings session and Stan Getz's Focus. The intermingling of the piano, saxophone, and string section is simultaneously accessible and challenging. The strings are never overbearing, and the recording is completely modern and undated.
Track Listing: CD1: Without Malice; Ocho Rios (first version); Diddy Wah; Ode To Infinity; The Dance;
Satin Lady; Ocho Rios (second version); Monkash; Mahogany. CD2: Illusion; Poinsettia;
Fragments; Soul Mate; Illusion (alternate take); Interfusion; Resolution; Chained; MOMA;
Nine At The Bottom; Six At The Top; Nine At The Bottom (alternate take). CD3: For Blue
People Only; Enamorado; Mother's Tale; Oriba (first version); Oriba (second version);
Awake; Now; I; Yomo; Prevue.
Personnel: Andrew Hill: piano, soprano saxophone on
Year Released: 2005
| Record Label: Mosaic Records
| Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream