Friday, October 9, 2009

Andrew Hill's Discontinued Masterpiece

Pianist Andrew Hill is one of the great masters of modern jazz. Let me do you the service of providing a list of his most important recordings. I begin with the two most essential:
  1. Point of Departure
  2. Andrew!
Both of these are worth their weight in whatever you value most. I have blogged several times about the first. The second is less breathtaking, and less groundbreaking, but it part of any great collection. Here are a few more:
  1. Judgment
  2. Compulsion
  3. Shades
  4. Verona Rag
  5. The Day the World Stood Still
If you are interested in great, haunting jazz, that is a good package to collect.

But there is another Hill recording that belongs with the first three, only it has been discontinued and is rather hard to come by. I have never seen it in any jazz bins, even in the best stores. I got by copy by inter-library loan.

The disc is Lift Every Voice. It documents two sessions with Hill, backed by a vocal chorus made up of seven and nine singers. Hill uses the chorus as one more instrument, and the effect is electrifying. The voices rise and intertwine both behind the other instruments, and occasionally as a solo instrument. It is superb composition.

But the real joy is the consistently bluesy heart of the melodies, always conducted by Hill's perfect notes. This is really substantial jazz, and shouldn't be missed.

Here is a sample from the second session. The great Lee Morgan plays trumpet, Bennie Maupin is on tenor sax, flute, and bass clarinet. Ron Carter plays bass, and Ben Riley drums.
Andrew Hill/Blue Spark/Lift Every Voice
And here is one from the first session, with Woody Shaw on trumpet, Carlos Garnett on tenor, Richard Davis on bass, and Lawrence Marshall on drums.
Andrew Hill/Hey Hey/Lift Every Voice
All of this is soul shaking good. There is no possible reason this shouldn't be available, at least as a download from eMusic or some other vendor. Demand it! You won't be disappointed with the whole thing. Lee Morgan's solos alone are worth whatever you have to pay.

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