Selection 1: Nefertiti (Hill) 320kbps MP3
Selection 2: Mudflower (Hill) 320 kbps MP3
Andrew Hill (piano) Richard Davis (bass) Roger Blank (drums) recorded January 25, 1976 recording engineer David Baker, recording location unknown, “Roger Blank” (a pseudonym?) unknown.
Hill’s name cropped up in a recent conversation with a music executive. “Name one artist which every jazz fan knows but who is almost entirely unknown to the wider public. Andrew Hill. We like Hill here on the listening sofa at LJC. Having stumbled on his fertile ’70s work with the previous title “Invitation”, the theme continues here with more Hill-walking.
All About Jazz says of Hill’s Nefertiti:
If you have most of Hill’s Blue Note albums and some of his more recent output and feel that is most of what is worth hearing, are you ever wrong…
…the band plays together with stunning creativity and empathy. Hill has great energy throughout and a beautifully fat, full tone… Davis’ gorgeously imaginative arco work on “Nefertiti” and Blank’s anomalous drum pattern on “Mudflower” …not only highly entertaining, but continue to fascinate with repeated listenings.
LJC says: “repeated listening” – that’s the point with Hill, you don’t get it in a onesy. It’s not one record, it is many records. There is the one you first hear, never knowing which way it is going to go. The autonomy of the other members of the trio means you get their record as well as Hill’s, and you don’t know which way they are going to go either. Once familiarity has set in, new patterns move into the foreground.
It is the formula that isn’t a formula and which makes fresh stimulating thoughtful music, created at a time when music started at the feet and rarely rose above the waistline. It is intelligent music but not “intellectual” music like some Anthony Braxton – no eight page supplement with diagrams necessary to explain why it is so clever. Confession: if I struggle with Cecil Taylor, that’s as nothing compared with Braxton (Cue outrage, philistine! a towering genius. The Friends of Anthony Braxton Appreciation Circle would like you to step outside into the car park, teach you a little respect. Yeah yeah) More anon.
Produced for the short-lived Japanese East Wind Music label (1974-7). Striking cover which mixes shades of maroon, burnt orange and other-worldly cyan, an intoxicating mix, which makes up for Inner City Records baby-poo coloured label. (OK how else would you describe it? No Pantone numbers, that’s cheating) The title font is also interesting one for any fontaholics out there, a daggered serif.
Tonally quite rich, not quite the dynamic range of Hill’s previous Steeplechase title, but still very acceptable for mid-’70s Americana, and enough to carry the music..
Watch out, watch out, there are a lot of Nefertiti‘s about. There’s a Miles Davis one, and in a quite different vein, a Cecil Taylor one. The Taylor has perhaps the most striking design of the three, each gets a slot here of its own:
The Davis cover is as per usual for Miles, a moody selfie:
What is it with this chick Nefertiti that so inspires musicians?
Philip Glass’s Akhnaten is on my shelf.
Talking Point: The “Avant Garde”
(Nothing to do with Hill’s Nefertiti, which is Terra Firma in my view). I get the occasional mail for appearing to disrespect Cecil Taylor, who the Americans unaccountably pronounce, Ceecil. This is unfair, since I make it abundantly clear the fault if anything is with me. The Gary Giddins Youtube on Cecil Taylor is very thought provoking and insightful, must watch, though it still leaves me with that oxymoronic sentiment when I play Taylor that “this music is a lot better than it sounds”. I have just bought a copy of Taylor’s Nuits a Fondation Maeght Volume 1, which is an astonishing sounding French pressing on the Shandar label (Sam
Fisher Rivers!), appreciation of which was enhanced by a recent visit to this remarkable alfresco art gallery near St Paul de Vence, France.
You get a sense of the music in an art gallery setting, a little like Mingus in Jazz Portraits, strangely, a sense of place can make a difference to how you approach a piece of music.
But Anthony Braxton however I simply can not fathom. Perhaps that’s my loss, but I don’t get him. What am I missing?
So I have a question for you.
I was delighted with the response to submitting jazz favourites and essentials. That’s easy. However, who are your nominations for the opposite: “artists” you have found totally unlistenable or unfathomable. Any reason will do, could be avant garde, could be, well anything. Late period Coltrane? (And you call yourself a “jazz fan”?) Ayler? Sun Ra (blasphemy!). Alice Coltrane? Mr Braxton? Have courage, name names, albums even, you are among friends. Some will disagree, it’s only natural, but we need to get this out in the open. When I have enough nominations, I will go to a poll. Show of hands wins.