Andrew Hill: Andrew!!! (1964) Blue Note/Liberty


Selection: Black Monday (Hill)



John Gilmore (tenor saxophone) Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone) Andrew Hill (piano) Richard Davis (bass) Joe Chambers (drums) Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, June 25, 1964

Possibly Hill’s most interesting Blue Note in which extended solo’s are embedded in a quintet setting. Hot John Gilmore, Cool Bobby Hutcherson, conceptual Joe Chambers, lyrical Richard Davis, the ensemble creates a supporting canvas over which Hill cascades of descending notes,  fragments of melody, restless shifting tunes partly formed, dense polychromatic chords and unpredictable rhythmic twists and turns. Andrew!!!

Hutcherson is an extension of Hill’s keyboard, taking over the role of “accompanying” , while  Davis scampers over the upper register of the upright bass, briefly taking the foreground, only to step back into the shadows of the ensemble. Gilmore captures the spirit, not the place for virtuoso tenor solo  but measured big notes of contrasting texture to Hill’s ivory flights. My admiration for Joe Chambers continues to grow, his sensitive, probing, percussive accents, colours and washes, in the league of Anthony Williams.

Each member of the quintet add to the musical spiders web, holding each other together,  their contributions personally inspired rather than scripted, giving it all an organic quality. Your task is simply to follow and absorb as much of the creation as you can.

Hill’s music is difficult to classify because it is original. It’s not like others, the usual way we categorise things, through comparison. It is complex and structured, but with space for invention on the fly, and not simultaneous “free improvisation” or random. It is more intellectually exploratory rather than emotionally driven. You can marvel at its beauty.  It’s not like Cecil Taylor, whose music succeeds in avoiding melody rhythm and harmony by dissolving before anything of substance like a tune can take shape. There are tunes in Hill, not always obvious, they take persistence to draw out.

Hill is not “far out” , he doesn’t tear up the rules so much as create his own. He is accessible, though not an open door, you have to push. We like Andrew Hill at LJC, I have said why. Anyone, any thoughts, feel free.

John Fordham’s sensitive 2007 obituary of Hill is as rounded a view of the man and his music  as you are likely to find, read it for yourself here.


Vinyl:  BNST 84203 Stereo Division of Liberty, VAN GELDER stamp, 134 gram vinyl.

Released by Liberty in 1968, four years after it was recorded, technically the 1st issue was a mono radio-station promo, but effectively this is the first commercial stereo  release, (picking my words carefully). Call me out.

The choice of cover photo  is an audacious rebranding of Hill  – out with the cerebral  intense  serious artist face, in with smiling and easy-going, boy next door charm  Hey Andy my friend, lets all go to the movies! –  as unlikely a portrayal of the music within as you will find on a record sleeve. The photo and design is attributed to Reid Miles, so unlike his signature chiaroscuro style, the sort of photo Hill’s mum would probably choose, so we must assume it is of serious intent.  (Contrarians arise: I really like it!™)

540x360[1]Completists might want to track down the OOP Mosaic of Hill’s entire Blue Note catalogue on vinyl. It has everything, including the beige twofer One on One material, posted here on LJC eighteen months ago. I have to say, if I saw the Mosaic I would snap it up, if only for the “serious music” cover.



Collector’s Corner

Shrink or no shrink? That is the question.

Normally I say no to the shrink: it’s done its’ job, protecting the jacket over fifty years, thank you so much, now we can all enjoy the jacket as new, off with the shrink. You can see in the photos how the shrink has a tight grip on the corners, bending them round. It is a late ’60s shrink, rather elastic, holding on to the cover for grim death, unlike the early inert cellophane shrinks, which you can slip off, save in one piece and reinstate if you wished.

However this record cost me a premium over what it was worth because the word Shrink! Collectors get everyone excited at the thought of a mint cover. It’s just one step short of Sealed!! Just sealed on three sides instead of four. Moreover it’s a Liberty cover from 1967. There is no beautiful laminated cover to reveal, just a flat matt Liberty jacket. The shrink actually adds a glossy tactile element the cover.

So shame about the reflections in the photo, price you pay.. the shrink stays. If you don’t like it, don’t look.


18 thoughts on “Andrew Hill: Andrew!!! (1964) Blue Note/Liberty

  1. I was just listening to this, and decided to have a look to see what others thought of it. I’m a big fan of Andrew Hill’s output, but this one’s maybe my least favourite of his Blue Notes.

    My all-time favourite of Hill’s recordings is one from fairly late on in his career, and which is only available on CD — Dusk.

  2. By coincidence, I was listening to Wayne Shorter’s ‘The Collector’ when I read your comments on Joe Chambers. Highly recommended set if you’re after another fix.

  3. One of my favourite records with Andrew Hill as a sideman is Walt Dickerson’s “To My Queen” (New Jazz 8283). The original pressing is noisy, so I would recommend the stereo CD.

    • Good call, Eduard, I overlooked that.

      I concur, my copy of the US vinyl of To My Queen on New Jazz is tainted by recycled vinyl, which is unforgivable given the soft tones of Walt. Bob Weinstock’s legacy includes many outstanding recordings, but also the abomination of recycled vinyl.

      However before throwing yourself at the mercy of the ESD™ , Victor Japan did quite a nice reissue of To My Queen, somewhere in the ’70s, no hiss. My Victor Japan copy has sleeve notes entirely in Japanese, however, conveniently, I have the New Jazz original US cover, which makes a good combo.

      • Thanks for the hint, LJC. It’s good to see the Victor is in stereo – unlike my own VAN GELDER stamped, noisy LP, which is audibly off-centre (very bad for the vibraphone!). That’s why I prefer the ESD™ at the moment.

  4. Thanks for the motivation to pull AH off the shelf for a serious listen. Totally unique. Highly recommend the relatively recent Time Lines, but doubt if it’s been released on vinyl. I think I’ll follow alunsevern’s suggestion of the MM33 version of Point of Departure to replace my current copy on CD.

    Regarding that cover…there’s something about the way he’s looking back over his shoulder with a clever grin. The tension in his forehead (or is that a shrink wrap reflection?). I’m hearing “Look where I’m going. See if you can keep up.”

  5. when a musician is not easily (or at all) amenable to others who came before him, my ears stand up. Hill is fully original, no hard bop, no free; different. that’s the reason why he didn’t reach success. listeners had no reference points. his music came out in full Soul Jazz and Free Jazz era and it was so unlike. maybe it was difficult to understand. the only pianist I can approach to him is Herbie Hancock, some times.
    my copy has no shrink, only a small Mono sticker…

    • Hello Dott, I’m surprised at your comparing Hill to Herbie Hancock. That would never have occurred to me — i shall have to listen and compare. Hancock has always struck me as a much more mainstream player than Hill. The thing i love about Andrew Hill is that he found his own way to ‘outside’ music: not free exactly, not bop, and not mainstream – but with some connection to all those forms.

      He also chose a different route to Monk.

      Listen to Hill playing solo (or even some of the trio records) and at first you could be forgiven for thinking that you’re hearing a man who has never touched a piano before. Listen more carefully and you can hear him consciously avoiding the obvious, steering away from routine progressions, backing himself into – and out of – corners, almost for the hell of it. To my ears he is one of the least predictable of pianists.

        • Excellent, Dott, thanks. I have ETERNAL SPIRIT (a Hill I am very fond of) and I shall listen to Pinnacle as soon as I can make a chance and see whether I too can hear Herbie… Cheers.

          • Dott, I listened to ETERNAL SPIRIT this morning, especially Pinnacle and you may be right that on that track Hill does have something in common with Hancock… It may only be that for some reason Hill sounds relatively unHill-like… I shall need to listen again to see if he just sounds unlike himself or whether he sounds a bit Hancock-like… I’m not sure, but SPIRIT is a terrific. And under-rate Hill LP, that’s certain.

  6. As with all the other Andrew Hill Blue Notes that I have: top notch material for a relaxed lazy Sunday when the wife’s out 😉

  7. A marvellous and under-rated Hill record, LJC, and sadly one i only have on CD. Consequently, it doesn’t get played as much as it ought to. Over the w/e i was exploring his VERONA RAG – the loveliest of his solo records (Soul Note) – the Jazzpar Octet recording THE DAY THE WORLD STOOD STILL, which is terrific, and (again!) the recent MM33 POINT OF DEPARTURE. That MM pressing has elevated POINT even higher in my estimation. But oddly i found it was VERONA i returned several times during the course of the weekend, for its intriguing fractured rags and sunshine-drenched melodies and wonky dances. Undoubtedly Hill’s happiest record.

    But I would dearly love a good copy of ANDREW and SMOKESTACK. I once had a Liberty SMOKESTACK but it sounded awful. I don’t know what had happened to it, but several cleans made no difference whatsoever. Eventually i gave up on it – stupidly, perhaps, because now i can’t even find a CD at a reasonable price.

  8. Thanks for this. Have had difficulty with AH in the past, but “Grass Roots” (on stereo vinyl Liberty/TransAmerica) got my attention several years ago. I have since gone back and re-listened to the earlier stuff and now have most of his BLUE NOTE output on ESD™. Recently,”Change” (with Sam Rivers – import BL 85190) has become a favourite. Your link to the Guardian obit much appreciated.

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