Home » Jazz Musicians » Andrew Hill

Andrew Hill

Andrew Hill is an NEA Jazz Master

Over nearly half a century, composer-pianist-ensemble leader Andrew Hill gained international jazz renown for his uniquely original music and recorded ouevre, which is by turns dark, fragile, funny, stark, unforgettably tuneful, percussive, insightful, oblique, transparent and mysterious. With the release of Dusk (Palmetto Records), his first album in ten years, Hill reaches another peak, equaling high points of composition and collaboration he achieved in the 1960s with such innovators as Eric Dolphy, Kenny Dorham, John Gilmore, Roy Haynes, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Elvin Jones, Sam Rivers, Tony Williams and Reggie Workman, most often commissioned by Blue Note Records.

A folio of songs for sextet loosely inspired by Cane, Jean Toomer's classic volume of stories and poems published during the Harlem Renaissance, Dusk features Hill's New Point of Departure Sextet of virtuosi and the mature vision of an artist who has always flourished just beyond fame's spotlight, the better to see, hear, feel and create without its insistent glare. At age 63, Hill is especially gratified that there's plentiful new interest in his impeccable, elusive music — his teasing, just-beyond-grasp lyricism, his improvisations that simulate processes of thought, his themes that come together as naturally as night falls towards the end of a long day.

Hill was born in Chicago (despite mistaken information which prevailed for years that he arrived there in early childhood with his parents from Port au Prince, Haiti), raised in the heart of that city's black South Side, and discovered playing accordion and tapdancing outside his neighborhood's nightclubs and theaters by the great Earl "Fatha" Hines, who liked what he heard and told young Andrew, "I should be your master." Stan Kenton's arranger- trombonist Bill Russo also encouraged Hill, and introduced him to German composer-music theorist-in-exile Paul Hindemith, who corrected the notation of the youth's nascent yet intriguing compositional style.

Hill began gigging in 1952, and in the summer of '53 accompanied alto saxophonist Charlie Parker at the Greystone Ballroom, in Detroit. In the mid '50s he rehearsed with Miles Davis, worked with Dinah Washington and Coleman Hawkins, then organized his own trio and recorded So In Love, his debut (featuring bassist Malachi Favors, a founder of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and drummer James Slaughter) in 1955.

Upon moving to New York in 1961, Hill performed with Rahsaan Roland Kirk before being contracted as a leader by Alfred Lyons, the founder of Blue Note Records who proclaimed Hill his "last great protegé" at the 1986 Mount Fuji Festival celebrating Blue Note's legacy. Hill's Blue Note sessions from November, 1963 through March '66 were released as the albums Black Fire, Smokestack, Judgement, Point of Departure, Andrew!, Compulsion, One For One and Involution and are compiled in the seven-CD boxed set The Complete Blue Note Andrew Hill Sessions (1963-66) on Mosaic Records. Hill returned to Blue Note in 1989 and '90 to record Eternal Spirit and But Not Farewell, both of which featured saxophonist Greg Osby, and again late in '99 as a guest on Osby's album The Invisible Hand. He also released albums on the Arista-Freedom and Black Saint/Soul Note labels during the '70s and '80s, but spent most of those years (until the death of his wife Laverne in 1989) on the West Coast, offering solo concerts, classes and workshops in prisons, social service and academic settings, also playing occasionally at international fests.

Read more

Tags

Photos

Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

The Complete Joe...

Mosaic Records
2021

buy

Andrew Hill: Solos -...

Original Spin Music
2013

buy

Dreams Come True

Joyous Shout!
2008

buy

Change

Blue Note Records
2008

buy

Mosaic Select 23:...

Mosaic Records
2007

buy

Pax

Blue Note Records
2006

buy

Videos

Similar

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.