Wednesday, March 16, 2011

{Andrew Hill}-{One For One}

Man oh man! Please know that on this fine afternoon, I am here to serve up the goods! Once you hit play & begin to take in Andrew Hill's "Illusion" I'm hoping you'll agree with me. No credit here - like most things, i just stumbled onto it, and it doesn't take an insider's ear to recognize just how good this is. Let me expand a bit:

So my wife & I will be welcoming our third child into this fragile world sometime within the next month - give er take. Before each birth, the two of us head out of town for an overnite to connect & run free. We always have such a blast - it's great. So...this past weekend we were in Portland Maine (highly recommended) & while Leah was exploring a flower show I set off to discover Enterprise Records, and let me tell in the backwoods of New Hampshire for the last 6+ was total bliss & elation. For the most part I just stumbled around & drooled on a bunch of records that I couldn't possibly afford. Enterprise Records is a tiny shop that's been selling obscure vinyl exclusively for the last 24 years and is owned & run by a fantastic guy by the name of Bob Wirtz. He excels in many genres, but is totally killin' it in the Jazz department - he's got all the right stuff. The whole experience was a real treat: I would dig around for a while and then holler bits & questions at Bob & then he'd throw out a seemingly coded, disjointed & jeweled comment or response while nonchalantly setting the needle down on something from his stack which he coolly peered over with sinister delight, intuitively knowing that he had me under his thumb. Examples of this included Dewey Redman's "Tarik" & Grachan Moncur III's "Aco Dei de Madrugada (One Morning I Woke Up Very Early)" - neither of which I'd ever heard, and one of which I left there with.

Another item that I took home was Andrew Hill's "One For One." As best as I can tell, this is a fairly rare double LP of stuff he'd done in 65', 69' & 70' that was only briefly released in 75', though some of it can be found on "Pax" as well as his "Mosaic Select" collection. The three sessions offer a lot of diversity while remaining cohesive for the most part. As I implied earlier, "Illusion" is a knock-out. It's intoxicatingly chill. For starters, it involves a string quartet, which is often a detractor for me, but in this case it's quintessential - bravo! Holding down the fort from start to finish, the rhythm section of Ron Carter & Freddie Waits just grooves in a seemingly effortless way - slightly funky, smokey, soulful. Bennie Maupin chimes in on tenor toward the end, reminding me a great deal of some of the work that he did with Mwandishi in and around this same time period, which is to say, with excellence. Lastly, this song is a prime example of the uniqueness of Hill's piano playing, not to mention his compositional genius: he meanders in & out of the established groove, & when he isn't in, he's still in, altering the canvas with notes that play like soft, hazy brush strokes as well as sharp, lucid stabs - sparse & staggered & yet full of meaning. At times he seems to be playing to another song or time signature, adding a contrasting mood to the song that is supremely affecting.

The title track, "One For One" feels very much to be of the same species as "Illusion," but is clearly an animal of it's own. No strings on this one, & it has a noticeably heavier pulse: rather than simmering, it tends to cook. Ron Carter is walking another solid bass line, but this time he's accompanied by Ben Riley on drums. Riley seems very free & inspired throughout & to my ears I hear a Latin influence in his playing. I also hear an eastern influence coming from Maupin's flute. Hill is up to his same complex tricks, but is applying them in new ways here - I also hear the Latin thing in some of his lines as well. There's some great interplay & solo exchanges happening among the brass & reeds worth looking for, especially toward the end.

All in all, this is a great collection of songs by perhaps my favorite Jazz composer & piano player. If you see it out there, snatch it up. Until then, I hope you enjoy these two selections. Doug

1 comment:

  1. Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Bennie Maupin!!!!
    I love Maupin and his feel for things. He just oozes with such an ethno-centric voice....and Ron Carter is on bass?!?!? He's definitely one of my favorite bassists....ever since hearing the stuff he did with Eric Dolphy. It seems like such an all-star cast for it to be so unheard. I love it, man!!!! I dig both of these tracks, but the eastern groove of One For One has me at the first note. Thanks for posting....Andrew Hill crushes it again!!!!