Andrew Hill: Siete Ocho

19 Apr

Andrew Hill: But Not Farewell

Andrew Hills 1991 album: But Not Farewell

Remembering pianist/composer Andrew Hill, who died on this day at age 75 in 2007.

If you’re looking for popular music that plays in the background as you snap your fingers, Andrew Hill isn’t it. But while he wasn’t always popular with the record-buying public, he was with his peers.

“At the zenith of my Blue Note recordings (1963-69), I found that fame and fortune were not my reward,” Hill wrote on the liner notes to the 1979 album From California With Love, ” but fame and poverty.”

Fortunately, Hill mostly avoided the latter (Ben Ratliff wrote in a 2006 New York Times story that “in a 1966 interview with Downbeat, (Hill) encouraged each of his listeners to send him a dollar.”) Hill taught and composed, but it took years and years for his music to gain a larger foothold with listeners. After Hill’s death, Ratliff linked Hill to Thelonious Monk: “Both were brilliant composers, and played in a style suited to their own writing,” he wrote.

Fortunately, Hill’s insistence on setting his musical career to his liking has left a wealth of music for many to discover.

“. . . Though truly unaffiliated with any movement outside his personal course, composer and pianist Andrew Hill has prospered on the cusp of jazz (renown) for 40 years,” wrote Howard Mandel on the liner notes to 1991’s But Not Farewell. “Which is not to say he’s enjoyed great financial reward from the couple of dozen albums recorded under his own name . . . Rather Hill’s created a deep and distinctive body of work that’s been self-satisfying, fascinating to the finest players of several decades, and sure to intrigue serious listeners for years to come.”

Hill died in New York in 2007 of lung cancer.

A track from the 1964 album Judgment! below, with Bobby Hutcherson (vibes), Elvin Jones (drums) and Richard Davis (bass).

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