Thursday, August 03, 2006

Andrew Hill - Pax (Blue Note, 1965/2005)

The Andrew Hill renaissance continues, hopefully it will boost his spirits and health, and keep him making interesting music for years to come. This archival release surprisingly was not put out at the time of recording and only dribbled out much later as part of a two-record set as Blue Note cleared the vaults in the mid-70's. While it might not reach the epochal heights of Hill's masterpieces like Point of Departure and Judgment there's some fascinating music here and a crack band made up of Hill on piano with Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Joe Henderson on tenor saxophone, Richard Davis on bass and Joe Chambers on drums.

The album begins with "Eris," which has an edgy, anxious melody and playing featuring nice tenor solo by Henderson, followed by some Monkian soloing from Hill. "Pax" follows with melancholy opening before moving to a tenor solo and a probing trumpet solo nipping at the heels of the melody. Hill solos sounding like fractured pieces of crystal. "Pax" is Latin for "peace," but here it's an unsettled peace to be sure. "Calliope" has Hill taking a melodic and interesting solo followed by a mid-temo dark hued tenor sax solo. Hubbard takes a strong trumpet solo, and then Richard Davis muscles in for some deep bass soloing. "Euterpe" has super fast ensemble playing on the melody and then a storming trumpet solo. Hill keeps the pace up with a moving piano solo backed by rapid pulsing bass/drums. Tenor hops on the fast train and then trumpet returns to take things out.

"Erato" provides a bit of a breather as it's a ballad for piano trio open, gentle and probing, with rippling waterfall like piano. "Roots 'n' Herbs" has pulsating bass and drums with seeking, searching piano becoming progressively more percussive. Another interesting version of "Euterpe" in tacked on at the end with some hot trumpet storming the gates backed by heavily comped piano. The music on this album was quite successful with both solid ensemble playing and soloing, so it's a mystery why it wasn't included in Blue Note's original release schedule. Regardless, it's a fine disc from on of the best composers and improvisers in jazz, and it's good to have it widely available.

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