Monday, May 07, 2007

Appreciating Andrew Hill

Somewhat ironic given the nature of my previous post, I’ve been engaged over the past week in researching a fairly major tribute to Andrew Hill.

It has been awhile since I listened closely to his early landmarks like Judgment! and Point Of Departure, and of course you hear different things when you listen with the benefit of time and a different context.

Apart from the confidence that one hears in Hill’s early work, it’s impossible not to notice how his early signatures – particularly the episodic nature of many of his compositions and the angularity of his notated phrasing – have become lingua franca for many contemporary composers. It is, of course, impossible to isolate the influence of one particular musician without considering the achievements of his or her predecessors – possible influences – but from the vantage point of 2007 one might actually speculate that Hill’s influence is more broadly felt than Monk’s.

Sacrilege? Perhaps, but as widespread as Monk’s tunes have become, it is his quirky performance techniques – and the freedom his approach granted to all – that dominate his memory. With Hill, the influence seems more universal, beyond simply compositional or technical characteristics to something more pervasive.

All that being stated, I’d still like to plumb the depths of those knotty late-career solo outings in 1996-98 beyond what my own memory provides, which is always shaky at best.

1 comment:

daryl said...

I'm inclined to agree with you about Hill's influence. Case in point: I just received a piano trio record by Lewis Porter (yes, THAT Lewis Porter) that is filled with subtle stop/start gestures. It's hard not to hear the influence of Hill (and maybe Herbie Nichols) in a record like this. All the more startling seeing as it comes from someone who has written books about Lester Young and John Coltrane.