August 24, 2015

Andrew Hill - Passing Ships (1969)


I finally gave this album a listen after seeing how much of a strong cult following it has in certain internet communities. This is definitely some cool stuff, but I'm not going to pretend that it's on the level of Hill's monstrous classics from a few years before this session. I'm not sure if I'm a fan or not of the stereo mastering with Lenny White all the way in the right channel, but overall I think it suits the spacious atmosphere. Passing Ships is definitely one of Hill's least focused albums in terms of all of the songs coming together for a cohesive feel and pattern, but the album's great sound and improvisations make up for that. There is a nice level of echo and shine on everything, especially the bass, which sounds like it might be electric at some points (and I must say that Ron Carter was a great choice in bassist for this session). Not the biggest fan of the tuba on here. Hill trying to work with a bigger band is one thing, but the tuba is always out of place and just weighs everything down without offering anything in exchange.

Even though this is a hodge-podge kind of an album, Hill does a solid job in hitting all of the bases. At times he sounds a little inspired by Herbie Hancock, but always refers back to his signature angles and patterns when necessary. A very chill album that I have a few minor issues with, but holds plenty of replay value for me.

Sample

Passing Ships