August 13, 2016

Andrew Hill - Andrew!!! (1964)

The most elusive of the golden-age Andrew Hill albums and one of his finest sessions. Andrew!!! slips under most fans' radars probably because its out of place cover and delayed release. I was actually more drawn to the album by the artwork, however. Andrew's big grin and the amiable title font/punctuation is such a mismatch for this guy's music. It's not something to get all that excited about in a hip, swinging, Jimmy Smith, or Hank Mobley kind of way. The dude's music is almost always somber, brainy, and pushing the creative limits of melodic music. I guess this was to generate sales while the boogaloo and organ soul jazz phase was still kicking. Don't let this cover catch you off guard because this is some next-level shit.

Andrew!!! features a very rare performance from tenor saxophonist John Gilmore. John Gilmore was partnered with the Sun Ra Arkestra his entire career and led the group after Sun Ra's death. He seldom played outside of the Arkestra. In my books, he is no doubt a top-tier saxophonist and one of the greatest and most original of his time and should be revered as much as John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. It is very unusual to hear Gilmore in a calmer, smaller-group setting like this and it gives listeners a chance to sense some different colors in his already fresh approach to soloing.

The most obvious element of the album is the presence of vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. For real though, post bop albums featuring Bobby Hutcherson and those without him should be classified as different genres. If you're familiar with the more famous Andrew Hill record, Judgment, you'll quickly experience a similar flavor in the Bobby Hutcherson-Andrew Hill combination (the consistency with Richard Davis helps with this also). Andrew!!! includes a horn, however, while Judgment does not, and this results in a little added pep to both the sound and compositions. The general pace and feel of Point Of Departure is here, but this album is a little more subdued. Check out this slept-on album because it's easily as good as Judgment, Black Fire, and Point Of Departure. Plus, you get a rare chance to hear John Gilmore in a small group Blue Note setting. If you want more of him on Blue Note, check out his 1957 hard bop album with Cliff Jordan and the Jazz Messengers' rhythm section as well as the more adventurous, larger group session, Compulsion, which is also led by Andrew Hill.