Saturday, March 31, 2007

Andrew Hill health update, Compulsion!!!!!

Frank Kimbrough has posted a description of Andrew Hill's current health status. Those who passed on his recent New York solo concert may regret it (but at least we can all still stream it):

Andrew's been battling lung cancer for some time now - it's terminal, so the prognosis is not good, and he resigned himself to that some time ago........he's been undergoing experimental treatments from what I understand, but I don't know much......we speak pretty regularly, but we don't talk about his illness very much, at least in terms of details - I think he prefers to concentrate on more positive things, and tries to look forward to whatever he's able to do in terms of composing, performing and recording. He definitely doesn't want anyone's pity. If I ask how he's doing, he tells me that if I don't ask, he won't tell. His sense of humor is intact, but communication is rather difficult - his vocal cords collapsed a few months back, and all he's able to manage is a high-pitched whisper. He's very weak, and frighteningly thin. He's been incredibly brave through all this, and that is truly inspiring....... he just keeps soldiering on with an absolutely amazing spirit and will to live. As sick as he's been, he composed a new suite especially for yesterday's concert.
Hopefully, he'll be able to make it to the trio recording session to take place in a month's time.


Andrew Hill Compulsion!!!!! (Blue Note)
Destination: Out called this one "Hill’s free-est, most out-there session of the time." I'm not sure I agree: the percussion is heavy, but very steady, so it's easy to focus on the fiery, boldly-stated and clearly-delimited solos. Andrew shares much of the personnel, but is far more intricate and subtle, I find, and Roy Haynes's playing on Black Fire is more traditional, but rhythmically far wilder than Compulsion!!!!!.

That's the great thing about Hill's Blue Note discography: there are no rote albums, the music is substantially different every time. It's not about linear development - refinement of craft - but a kind of exploration of the peripheries of a landscape of his own design. That's a risky approach, and Hill's albums suffered when he lost access to the very best players (anyone know why that happened? Maybe Blue Note's change of ownership?), but it's also led him to create an unusually varied catalogue.

Also, in the Compulsion!!!!! booklet, there's a photo of young Cecil McBee looking very "cool, cute and sophisticated."

The album is an RVG, and Tim Niland has interesting commentary on Concord's Orrin Keepnews series:
Are record labels shifting the attention from the black musicians who made the music (now mostly dead and unable to defend themselves) to the white producers and engineers whose role in the music has heretofore been somewhat invisible? Keepnews and Van Gelder certainly deserve their place in jazz history, but giving them equal billing with the musicians on classic albums seems a little bit much.