by Andy Bleaden
This stunning find is the box set to die for for all Mosaic /Blue Note fans as it was a dream come true in all senses of the word. Mosaic originally released some of Hills best work on a set a while ago which took all his mid sixties sessions and some rare pieces too. This set became out of print and now fetches very high prices on Ebay. Since then Blue Note have issued a few of his later Blue Notes such as Grass Roots, Lift every Voice with extra tracks from other unissued sessions.
More recently Blue Note released Dance with Death to much aclaim but more importently a totally unissued collection on Passing Ships which left many fans demanding to know if there was any more left in the can ( which they knew there was) This material had been rejected before as unusable before clean masters were discovered. Passing Ships was such a success that Blue Note approached Andrew Hill to discuss releasing more of his unissued work. It resulted in a three disc set which cleaned out the vaults once and for all. An unheard of act for even major artists but for a jazz artist it was a strong investment.
The box set gathers together all of Andrew Hill remaining unissued material and along with stunning photos and texts gives listeners an opportunity to explore the full range of an artist that both Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff made an enormous personal investment in. The set includes a never on cd two fer that Blue Note issued in the 70's and a track seen only on a compilation. With the release of these sessions, recorded between 1967 and '70, every piece of music from Andrew Hill's Blue Note recordings has been issued.
This outstanding, unique pianist-composer is heard in a variety of contexts, and only six of the 31 selections on this set have ever been out in any form. Their common denominator is Andrew's brilliant improvisations and unique compositions. The 1970 sextet with trumpeter Charles Tolliver and saxophonists Pat Patrick and Bennie Maupin features six challenging pieces played with drive and swing. Some of the best writing in the set comes from two 1969 dates that pair Hill's quartet (Maupin, Ron Carter and Mickey Roker or Carlos Garnett, Richard Davis and Freddie Waits) with a fully integrated string quartet.
Three tunes from each of these projects were previously issued, but now the entire sessions have been newly remixed from the original eight-track tapes for release. A February 1967 session with saxophonists Robin Kenyatta and Sam Rivers features Hill's recorded debut at the organ on two selections, an instrument to which he returns for two pieces on his May 1967 trio date with Ron Carter and Teddy Robinson. From October 1967 comes a powerful septet date with Woody Shaw, Kenyatta, Rivers and Howard Johnson in the front line. Get hold of this one if you can!
Track Listing: Disc 1: Without Malice; Ocho Rios; Diddy Wah; Ode to Infinity; The Dance; Satin Lady; Ocho Rios (second version); Monkash; Mahogany.
Disc 2: Illusion; Poinsettia; Fragments; Soul Mate; Illusion (alternate take); Interfusion; Resolution; Chained; MOMA; Nine at the Bottom; Six at the Top; Nine at the Bottom (alternate take).
Disc 3:For Blue People Only; Enamorado; Mother's Tale; Oriba (first version); Oriba (second version); Awake; Now; I; Yomo; Prevue.
Personnel: Andrew Hill- piano, soprano saxophone on “Six at the Top,” organ on “Resolution” and “Nine at the Bottom;” Ron Carter, Richard Davis, Herbie Lewis, Cecil McBee- bass; Paul Motian, Ben Riley, Freddie Waits, Mickey Roker, Teddy Robinson- drums; Pat Patrick- flute, alto clarinet, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone; Bennie Maupin- flute, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Robin Kenyatta- alto saxophone; Sam Rivers- flute, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone; Carlos Garnett- tenor saxophone; Howard Johnson- baritone saxophone, tuba; Woody Shaw- trumpet; Charles Tolliver- trumpet, flugelhorn; Nadi Qamar- thumb piano; Sanford Allen- violin; Selwart Clarke, Booker Rowe, Al Brown- viola; Kermit Moore- cello.
Here is what All ABout Jazz said about it:
All but six of the 31 tracks on this 3-CD boxed set from Mosaic have never been issued before. Recorded between 1967 and 1970, the mainstream jazz on Andrew Hill's Mosaic Select 16 represents the last remaining unissued sessions from his Blue Note years. All the compositions are Hill's. Using a sextet, trio and septet format, the pianist creates torrents of improvised sounds that bring his ensembles together with clarity and a cohesive interface. Hill communicates with his audience through a driving rhythmic groove and through the music's myriad impressions. Like a suite of ideas, each piece casts changing moods along the way. Ensemble phrasing and individual soloing combine to layer each piece with spontaneity.
With saxophonists Pat Patrick and Bennie Maupin, trumpeter Charles Tolliver, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Ben Riley, Hill creates seven tracks that whisper the essence of jazz. Nothing can be taken for granted. Each bend in the trail calls for a surprising lift. With bassist Richard Davis, saxophonists Maupin or Carlos Garnett, drummers Freddie Waits or Mickey Roker and strings, the pianist lays down seven tracks that continue to push the envelope. Dramatic intensity increases, as Hill explores the thrills of communicating openly with the element of surprise at hand. He reaches for the piano's uppermost and bottommost keys, as he swirls the ensemble's emotions around solid themes.
As “Soul Mate” romps evenly at a hip tempo with its cool rhythmic stride, the pianist toys with the string section. He draws upon the artists in his ensemble to create a relaxed scene where the audience can feel at home while witnessing refreshingly original material. With drummer Teddy Robinson and bassist Carter, the pianist creates seven exciting tracks that place more emphasis on his solo artistry. His off-center rhythmic phrases and multi-dimensional chording define the individualistic qualities of his music. Bass and drums lend strong support and climb out eagerly with improvised bouts of passion.
Hill's use of organ lends a dramatic flair, while his soprano saxophone outing on “Six at the Top” adds an exotic touch. As he trades fours with Carter, Hill's saxophone sings out in the manner of a snake charmer at the local bazaar. With trumpeter Woody Shaw, saxophonists Robin Kenyatta, Howard Johnson and Sam Rivers, bassist Herbie Lewis and drummer Robinson, the pianist creates five tracks that stretch boundaries. Kenyatta's hot approach lends a significant twist to “For Blue People Only,” while Shaw's “Oriba” solo flows evenly with a beautiful luster.
With Johnson on tuba, the piece comes in two versions, each capturing the best part of Mosaic Select 16. Rivers and Kenyatta help Hill create a powerful storm of emotion that lets his audience absorb and relate. They return for the compilation's final five tracks, along with drummer Robinson, bassist Cecil McBee, and Nadi Qamar at the thumb piano. Somewhat more mellow, the ensemble lounges for a while with graceful postures. Rivers' flute solo on “Awake” and his tenor solo on “Now” provide stirring examples of the heartfelt emotion that goes into his performances. “I” proves cacophonous, while “Yomo” moves sensuously behind a graceful thumb piano introduction designed to evoke natural emotion.
The compilation ends with “Prevue,” a hawkish monster of free jazz that includes the use of organ to disseminate dramatic forces throughout the ensemble. Cohesiveness breaks down, as the artists each go their own way with emphasis.
These previously unreleased sessions provide an all-encompassing look at the eclectic nature of pianist and composer Andrew Hill.