March 2, 2015

Andrew Hill - Judgment! (1964)

Judgment begins with a song in 7/8 and proves that Black Fire was no fluke--actually just a warm-up. This album has no horns and allows post-bop's finest rhythm section to craft a courageous, yet subdued album. Now for my usual line-up rundown that I do for jazz albums...

Richard Davis is the first instrument heard on Judgment!, and the wicked bassist sure sets the mood. I think listeners can focus more on him here than Black Fire and Point Of Departure because of the lack of horns. Drummer Elvin Jones is just too amazing; Judgment was recorded at the beginning of 1964, just when he was ramping into his peak with Coltrane. This is probably his best playing outside of the quartet, and Hill is to thank for opening him up almost as much as his regular band did. Bobby Hutcherson gets some crafty maneuvers going and builds naturally off of the harmonics set up by Hill. Andrew Hill is nothing short of a piano wizard; he's striking, angular, melodic, edgy, and guides an album like this moreso than even Herbie could at this time.

Despite the cool mood, Judgment! is not an easy listen like Kind Of Blue or Happenings and it doesn't have immediately captivating lead horn of an album like Andrew!!!, so its cerebral ambiance might be difficult to grasp on first listen, but stick with it! The secrets of the hidden temple will reveal themselves to those who are patient.