Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Andrew Hill (1931-2007)

I was saddened and shocked to find out about the death of Andrew Hill. Hill has long been one of my musical heroes, and I consider him among the greatest American composers. His classic Blue Note albums, many of which are only know coming back into print, are nearly all masterpieces. His piano playing, and compositional style were so unique, that I could only venture into superlatives. There was sort of an oblique, asymmetrical and glass shard-like quality to his compositions and playing. Hauntingly lyrical and modal one phrase, disjointed and dissonant another, swinging and iterant rhythmically one bar, spasmodic and distracted the next. His music often brought to mind Stravinsky's judgement of Webern as the supreme diamond cutter. Not to say he was as abstract as Webern. He could be, but he could be funky too, which Webern never was (unlike Stravinsky). He was like some strange, heteromorphic combination of Thelonious Monk, Debussy, Webern, Jelly Roll Morton and some forgotten Japanese Haikuist from the Edo period.

Fine remembrances at Do the Math and Destination: Out. Buy everything you can find with him on it. The new albums were great too.


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