Sam Rivers Sextet Andrew Hill Quartet “Involution” (1966/7)

Track Selection: “Paean”


Sam Rivers Sextet (Sides 1-2)

Donald Byrd (tp -1/4) Julian Priester (tb -1/4) James Spaulding (as, fl -1/5) Sam Rivers (ts, ss, fl) Cecil McBee (b) Steve Ellington (d) Recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, March 17, 1967

Andrew Hill Quartet (Sides 3-4)

Sam Rivers (ts -1/4,6,7) Andrew Hill (p, cel) Walter Booker (b) J.C. Moses (d) Recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, March 7, 1966


This is one schizophrenic two record package from United Artists “Blue Note Reissue Series” in 1975, works by Sam Rivers and Andrew Hill not previously released. The Sam Rivers sides went on to be released by under the title “Dimensions and Extension” which I have only ever seen on French vinyl (poor quality pressing) BST 84261, which is a pity as it is very exciting stuff, and on CD (Blue Note CDP 7 84261-2), which is outstandingly well mastered by Rudy Van Gelder.

CD alternative source of the track “Paean” which gives a much more lively and cohesive presentation than the vinyl, illustrating the loss of quality from the Seventies

The Andrew Hill sessions were intended to be on BLP 4233 “One For One” which was never released by Blue Note and only published later by United Artists as  BN-LA 459, in the same reissue series as Sam Rivers.

Julian Priester’s trombone is much in the vein of Grachan Mocur III, an instrument morphed from its sassy bluesy JJ Johnson manner into something a little more playful and menacing, a perfect partner for Rivers more unorthodox improvisation, while Steve Ellington’s insistent cymbal strike keeps time. This is the best 1966  NY deli jazz – a blend of sharp flavour sauerkraut and gherkin with pastrami on rye, perfect to awaken a tired palate.

Vinyl BN-LA 453-H2

The short-lived United Artists  Blue label with white note 1975-79, Stereo, and not especially great pressing, much like the state of vinyl across the industry. It was about this time Atlantic red/green label reissues of completely indifferent quality flooded the market, hastening the demise of the format.

Collectors Corner

Dealers don’t seem to know what to make of this record. It is chronologically ten years out of kilter, the “Blue Note Reissue Series” suggests they are  common or garden reissues which they are not, the brown paper gatefold cover looks cheap and nasty, and Rivers himself is something of an unknown quantity, despite having some extremely good Blue Note releases. He was a tenor sax “bad boy”  – original, with a bitter tone and sometimes austere, not “free jazz” but not comfortable bop either. His choice of fellow musicians is similarly a little left field, and the music is difficult to categorise, but “exciting” is where I file it.

This is actually a gem of a package, not especially rare, undervalued and priced usually around the £20 mark due to the above limitations. The United Artists pressing leaves a little to be desired, and the Rivers CD is a better alternative sonically,but it’s not exactly expensive to acquire the whole lot, including the Andrew Hill vinyl.

4 thoughts on “Sam Rivers Sextet Andrew Hill Quartet “Involution” (1966/7)

    this is quite a long series of albums with similar look, some originals, some reissues.
    never loved them: once I had Sonny Rollins, more from the Vanguard but changed it with 2 Japan singles with the same art cover than the true original, but with different colors.
    maybe the one and only time in my life I changed an original for a reissue, the original being this “reissue series” released in 1975.
    and I knew it: really couldn’t stand the package.
    a mistake that I do not regret.

    • The “brown bag” Reissue Series are not at all attractive, and the pressings are lacklustre, I think we agree. The Hill/ Rivers is the only one personally still play. I have that Rollins, the Herbie Nichols, and the Andrew Hill, but mostly they tend to stay on the shelf.

  2. Ah, Zen and the Art of The Single Malt – the space between Knowledge and the Great Unconscious. Just mind those stairs. LJC’s Unsteady State Theory says “What goes up must come down, just not necessarily at the same speed”

    Give Rivers a try. If by the third glass he’s not sounding any better, a strong dose of Hank Mobley should clear the head. :-))

  3. I have the CD; it was a gift. I have played it twice so far. It may not be 100% free jazz, but still it’s just a wee bit too ‘busy’ for me. But then again, maybe I should consider Dimensions & Extensions a single malt that has to age 12 years before I can safely enjoy it in my -by that time- carefully raked Zen garden 😉

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