Thursday, July 29, 2010

Andrew Hill and the Penguin Guide Lists

I chanced upon a some jazz lists this afternoon, and that put me back in that classical mood.  First there is the Jazz Calendar Page.  Did you know that today is Charlie Christian's 94th birthday?  Happy Birthday, Charlie, in that great jazz club in the sky.  

Better yet, here is a site that presents all the four star rankings from the Penguin Guide to Jazz (may it be praised).  I have relied heavily upon the Penguin Guide in my collecting, and I think it is the only standard for collectors.  This stalwart soul lists all the albums that have received a four star ranking in any of the nine editions of the Guide.  He also notes those that got a crown (author's favorite) and those that get a "core collection" rating.  I have almost all of the core entries from my well worn Eighth Edition.  If you are collecting, get the most recent Guide.  The reviews are very helpful.  Either way, download the lists from this site linked above.  It is very helpful.

For example: I noticed a recording by Andrew Hill from the Ninth Edition that I didn't know about.  I am waiting for the 10th!  So I downloaded it from Amazon for a cool seven smackers.  Hill is one of those artists I first approached because of the PG.  His Point of Departure is one of the greatest jazz recordings, IMHO.  Nearly as good is Andrew!  Both make the PG core.  

Dance with Death (a 2004 reissue of a 1968 recording) isn't in that circle of heaven, but it is quite good.  The song titles, like the album title, remind one of Wayne Shorter's great spooky albums.  Unlike Shorter's works, the music isn't really very spooky in feel. That's okay.  If you like Hill, you will like this one. Here is the lineup, from the AllAboutJazz review:
Personnel: Charles Tolliver (trumpet), Joe Farrell (tenor sax, soprano sax), Andrew Hill (piano), Victor Sproles (bass), Billy Higgins (drums)
And here is a sample, excerpted from the first cut.  
Andrew Hill/Yellow Violet/Dance with Death
 Even the flower thing reminds me of Shorter.  Tolliver's trumpet is exquisite.  Put this one on your Christmas List.  

Meanwhile I am contemplating a list of the Top Ten Jazz Men (1950-1965).  I am thinking about artists who are stand out in fame and impact on the music.  Okay, Miles and Trane are going numbers one and two.  If you have any ideas, let me know. 


  1. I'm a little fuzzy on their dates, but if I'm remembering rightly, Monk and Mingus should go on the list as well. Monk is top five, at least, and I'd say probably in third. Just about every jazz musician goes through a Monk phase, pretty sure... As a trombonist, I'd also say J.J. needs to be in there. Clifford Brown too, though he was around for only a few years. Philly Joe Jones and Max Roach were important drummers, so at least one of them should be included.

    Good luck to you on that. I think I would have far too hard a time narrowing it down to ten...

  2. I know most of his work comes from outside the period you outlined but how about Freddie Hubbard? From 1958-1965 he recorded with a lot of great band leaders, so I guess he was pretty highly regarded by them.
    I agree with Mingus, his three 1959 albums alone would probably get him on such a list if I was making one. Monk deserves to bee there as well.

    Looking into this it surprised me how productive Louis Armstrong was around this time, seems to have under gone a real renaissance.

  3. John and Will: Thanks for the feedback. It is exactly what I was looking for.

    Monk is going to be number three. Mingus will certainly make the top ten. Armstrong belongs with the elder gods.

    Clifford Brown is great, as is J.J. Johnson. I just happen to have acquired some recordings by both of them today. I think that neither makes it into the top ten. Watch this space!

  4. I wasn't suggesting Armstrong for the list, just surprised by the upswing of his work in the late 50's-60's.

    However I will suggest Ornette Coleman. Thanks for the link to the Penguin guide list, trying not to spend too much time looking at it or I'll end up needing to get another job or to to get all the albums on it I'd really like.

  5. maybe Eric Dolphy? he was a very brilliant player!
    Art Blakey for his Jazz Messengers? and Sonny Rollins!
    Lee Morgan also was one of the best hard bop trumpeters around...
    and J.J. Johnson.

  6. Will: Ornette Coleman will certainly be on it.

    Amused: Dolphy will make the cut, as well as Blakey and Rollins. We are thinking alike here. Morgan is a hero of mine, but I think he is second tier.

    Thanks for the help!