Andrew Hill

If quintessential bop pianist Thelonious Monk was "Fractured Fairy Tales," then Andrew Hill, the man Blue Note label head Alfred Lion perceived as the next Monk, was perhaps "Fantasia." An expansive, knotty collusion of the classical and modern, Hill was given carte blanche when it came to recording for the venerable imprint. The results were not only post-bop classics like Point of Departure and Judgment!, but ambitious sessions released five to ten years on (his widely revered nonet work, Passing Ships, didn't see release until 2003). Compulsion, a 1965 date rereleased on CD just before Hill succumbed to lung cancer in April, acts much like the kaleidoscopic cover, revealing yet another side of his paramount playing and arranging. His playing is as dense yet sprawling as that of fellow pianist and labelmate Cecil Taylor on his watershed Unit Structures. The album is powered by three drummers (kit, congas, African drums) and a front line of trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and Sun Ra reedsman John Gilmore. On standout "Premonition," the group's improvisation broods, then suddenly coheres around Hill's ascendant spires of notes, acting as a beacon through the darkness; on the title track, it melds kinetic dissonance to roiling polyrhythms.


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