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Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
Augmenting his rhythm section of bassist Richard Davis and drummer Elvin Jones with vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, pianist Andrew Hill records an excellent set of subdued but adventurous post-bop with Judgment. Without any horns, the mood of the session is calmer than Black Fire, but Hill's compositions take more risks than before. Close listening reveals how he subverts hard bop structure and brings in rhythmic and harmonic elements from modal jazz and the avant-garde. The harmonic structure on each composition is quite complex, fluctuating between dissonant chords and nimble, melodic improvisations. Naturally, Hill's playing shines in this self-created context, but Hutcherson equals the pianist with his complex, provocative solos and unexpected melodic juxtapositions. Jones shifts the rhythms with style, and his solos are exceptionally musical, as is Davis' fluid bass. The combination of the band's intricate interplay and the stimulating compositions make Judgment another important release from Hill. It may require careful listening, but the results are worth it. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1964 | Blue Note Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1964 | Blue Note Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Pianist and composer Andrew Hill is perhaps known more for this date than any other in his catalog -- and with good reason. Hill's complex compositions straddled many lines in the early to mid-1960s and crossed over many. Point of Departure, with its all-star lineup (even then), took jazz and wrote a new book on it, excluding nothing. With Eric Dolphy and Joe Henderson on saxophones (Dolphy also played clarinet, bass clarinet, and flute), Richard Davis on bass, Tony Williams on drums, and Kenny Dorham on trumpet, this was a cast created for a jazz fire dance. From the opening moments of "Refuge," with its complex minor mode intro that moves headlong via Hill's large, open chords that flat sevenths, ninths, and even 11ths in their striding to move through the mode, into a wellspring of angular hard bop and minor-key blues. Hill's solo is first and it cooks along in the upper middle register, almost all right hand ministrations, creating with his left a virtual counterpoint for Davis and a skittering wash of notes for Williams. The horn solos in are all from the hard bop book, but Dolphy cuts his close to the bone with an edgy tone. "New Monastery," which some mistake for an avant-garde tune, is actually a rewrite of bop minimalism extended by a diminished minor mode and an intervallic sequence that, while clipped, moves very quickly. Dorham solos to connect the dots of the knotty frontline melody and, in his wake, leaves the space open for Dolphy, who blows edgy, blue, and true into the center, as Hill jumps to create a maelstrom by vamping with augmented and suspended chords. Hill chills it out with gorgeous legato phrasing and a left-hand ostinato that cuts through the murk in the harmony. When Henderson takes his break, he just glides into the chromatically elegant space created by Hill, and it's suddenly a new tune. This disc is full of moments like this. In Hill's compositional world, everything is up for grabs. It just has to be taken a piece at a time, and not by leaving your fingerprints all over everything. In "Dedication," where he takes the piano solo further out melodically than on the rest of the album combined, he does so gradually. You cannot remember his starting point, only that there has been a transformation. This is a stellar date, essential for any representative jazz collection, and a record that, in the 21st century, still points the way to the future for jazz. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released September 20, 1989 | Blue Note Records

Andrew Hill returned to the Blue Note label (where he made many significant releases during 1963-80) for a stimulating quintet date with vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, altoist Greg Osby, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Ben Riley in 1989. The pianist's six originals (which are joined by three alternate takes on the CD) his dense chords behind the other improvisers and his own unpredictable solos are not all overshaowed by his talented sideman, even Osby who is heard in particularly inspired form. There are no weak performances on this superb post bop effort, Andrew Hill's strongest recording in several years. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released October 21, 2003 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Now this is more like it. In its Connoisseur Series, Blue Note is making available a completely unreleased Andrew Hill date from 1969. Passing Ships wasn't even included in the Mosaic box because the master tape wasn't found until 2001. The band Hill employed on this session was a nonet, featuring Woody Shaw and Dizzy Reece on trumpets, Joe Farrell on reeds, woodwinds, and English horn, Howard Johnson on tuba and bass clarinet, Ron Carter on bass, Lenny White (on only his second recording date) playing drums, trombonist Julian Priester, and French horn player Bob Northern. The music here is ambitious. Hill's scoring for one reed, two trumpets, and low brass is remarkable for the time. In fact, it isn't until his big-band album of 2002 that he ever ventured into these waters again. The title cut, with its bass clarinet and English horn counterpoint, is almost classical in structure but nearly Malian in melody. While the cut's dynamics are restrained, its color palette -- especially with the lilting muted trumpets playing a mysterious harmonic line -- is flush and royal. "Plantation Bag" is a showcase for Farrell's tough, grooved-out soloing as he blows blue and free in response to Hill's funky, large-spread chord voicings. The trumpets layer one another in the middle of the tune, alternately soloing and punching comp lines through the middle. The Asian melodic figures at the heart of "Noon Tide" add exoticism to one of the most adventurous tunes ever written by Hill. Rhythmically it turns on pulse rhythms that shift and slide methodically as Priester takes the tune's first solo, playing against Hill's left-hand stridency. Of the remaining three selections, "Cascade," with its staggered harmonic architecture that goes against all common wisdom for big-band harmony, is remarkable for its precision and rhythmic invention. Why this isn't going to be out there for the general public for all time is beyond reason. Why punish the artist that way? Conventional wisdom would suggest that something that has been unearthed for the first time in 34 years deserves to be a part of the general catalog. Get it quick. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1964 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2006 | Blue Note Records

Trimming away some of the overt Afro-Cuban rhythms that distinguished Black Fire, Andrew Hill turned in a dense, cerebral set of adventurous post-bop on his second Blue Note session, Smoke Stack. Comprised entirely of original Hill compositions, Smoke Stack is in the middle ground between hard bop and free jazz -- it isn't as loose and dissonant as free, but with its long, winding modal improvisations and hazy song structures, it's a lot less accessible than bop. It also isn't as successful as Black Fire, which worked similar territory with edgier results. Part of the problem is that Hill simply meanders throughout most of Smoke Stack, wandering off into quietly discordant sections that turn in on themselves. It's subdued music that requires concentration, but doesn't necessarily reward such effort. Even with its faults, Smoke Stack is far from an unworthy record -- Hill's insular, intellectual style may be occasionally frustrating, but his playing is frequently provocative and challenging, and his backing group of Richard Davis (bass), Eddie Khan (bass), and Roy Haynes (drums) offer sympathetic support. However, it's an album that promises more than it delivers. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Blue Note Records

Black Fire, Andrew Hill's debut record for Blue Note, was an impressive statement of purpose that retains much of its power decades after its initial release. Hill's music is quite original, building from a hard bop foundation and moving into uncharted harmonic and rhythmic territory. His compositions and technique take chances; he often sounds restless, searching relentlessly for provocative voicings, rhythms, and phrases. Black Fire borrows from the avant-garde, but it's not part of it -- the structures remain quite similar to bop, and there are distinct melodies. Nevertheless, Hill and his band -- comprised of tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, bassist Richard Davis, and drummer Roy Haynes -- are not content with the limitations of hard bop. Much of the music is informed by implied Afro-Cuban rhythms and modal harmonics, resulting in continually challenging and very rewarding music. Hill's complex chording is thoroughly impressive, and Henderson's bold solos are more adventurous than his previous bop outings would have suggested. Their expertise, along with the nimble, unpredictable rhythm section, help make Black Fire a modern jazz classic. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2000 | Blue Note Records

As the '60s drew to a close, Blue Note spent less time than ever with adventurous music, since it didn't sell as well as soul-jazz or mainstream hard bop. So, it may seem a little strange that the label invited Andrew Hill back to record in 1968, two years after he last cut a session for the label. Hill's work for the label stands among the most challenging cerebral post-bop of the '60s, but there was another side of Hill that wasn't showcased on those records: He also had a knack for groove and melody, as indicated by his composition "The Rumproller," a hard-grooving hard-bop classic made famous by trumpeter Lee Morgan. That was the side that Blue Note wanted to showcase on Grass Roots. Hill and his band were working from the basic template of making a commercial hard-bop album, but nevertheless pushed themselves to challenging territory. Blue Note sat on the session however, and Hill went back to the studio four months later with a new group of musicians: trumpeter Lee Morgan, tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Freddie Waits. This group was every bit as adventurous as the last, but they laid down a solid groove without compromising the music. The end result may not be as bracing as Hill's earlier works, but it's a pleasure to hear him in such a genial, welcoming mood. Furthermore, the record is hardly insubstantial musically -- the songs have strong melodies, even hooks, to bring casual listeners in, but they give the musicians the freedom to find a distinctive voice in their solos. It's the best of both worlds, actually -- accessible, just like Blue Note wanted, without compromising Hill's integrity. [Blue Note's 2000 CD reissue contains the entire first draft of the album as a bonus.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1999 | Blue Note Records

Pianist and composer Andrew Hill is perhaps known more for this date than any other in his catalog -- and with good reason. Hill's complex compositions straddled many lines in the early to mid-1960s and crossed over many. Point of Departure, with its all-star lineup (even then), took jazz and wrote a new book on it, excluding nothing. With Eric Dolphy and Joe Henderson on saxophones (Dolphy also played clarinet, bass clarinet, and flute), Richard Davis on bass, Tony Williams on drums, and Kenny Dorham on trumpet, this was a cast created for a jazz fire dance. From the opening moments of "Refuge," with its complex minor mode intro that moves headlong via Hill's large, open chords that flat sevenths, ninths, and even 11ths in their striding to move through the mode, into a wellspring of angular hard bop and minor-key blues. Hill's solo is first and it cooks along in the upper middle register, almost all right hand ministrations, creating with his left a virtual counterpoint for Davis and a skittering wash of notes for Williams. The horn solos in are all from the hard bop book, but Dolphy cuts his close to the bone with an edgy tone. "New Monastery," which some mistake for an avant-garde tune, is actually a rewrite of bop minimalism extended by a diminished minor mode and an intervallic sequence that, while clipped, moves very quickly. Dorham solos to connect the dots of the knotty frontline melody and, in his wake, leaves the space open for Dolphy, who blows edgy, blue, and true into the center, as Hill jumps to create a maelstrom by vamping with augmented and suspended chords. Hill chills it out with gorgeous legato phrasing and a left-hand ostinato that cuts through the murk in the harmony. When Henderson takes his break, he just glides into the chromatically elegant space created by Hill, and it's suddenly a new tune. This disc is full of moments like this. In Hill's compositional world, everything is up for grabs. It just has to be taken a piece at a time, and not by leaving your fingerprints all over everything. In "Dedication," where he takes the piano solo further out melodically than on the rest of the album combined, he does so gradually. You cannot remember his starting point, only that there has been a transformation. This is a stellar date, essential for any representative jazz collection, and a record that, in the 21st century, still points the way to the future for jazz. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | Blue Note Records

Compulsion continues Andrew Hill's progression, finding the pianist writing more complex compositions and delving even further into the avant-garde. Working with a large, percussion-heavy band featuring Freddie Hubbard (trumpet, flugelhorn), John Gilmore (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet), Cecil McBee (bass), Joe Chambers (drums), Renaud Simmons (conga), Nadi Qamar (percussion), and, for one track, Richard Davis (bass), Hill has created one of his most challenging dates. The extra percussion is largely used for texture, as is the dueling bass on "Premonition," and that's one of the reasons why the record is so interesting -- it's a provocative, occasionally unsettling set of shifting tonal colors. Hill's compositions often seem more like sketches and blueprints than full-fledged songs. This, of course, is not a bad thing, since this approach allows the musicians room to improvise and discover evocative new sounds. Overall, Compulsion doesn't hold together as well as Black Fire or Point of Departure, but the session has enough fiery, challenging highlights to make it necessary for Hill fans. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2006 | Blue Note Records

Andrew Hill has been, in the gentlest of cases, an idiosyncratic player, composer, and bandleader. But often, reviews of his work have been quite strident and refer to him as an iconoclast. That's okay; some critics thought of Monk and Herbie Nichols that way, too. Time Lines has Hill back -- for the third time in his long career -- with Blue Note, the label that gave birth to his enduring classics like Black Fire and Judgment!. But Hill is still every bit the creative and technically gifted musician he was back in the day; perhaps more so. His band features seasoned veteran Charles Tolliver on trumpet, saxophonist Greg Tardy (who also triples on clarinet and bass clarinet, and beautifully, to say the least), and a rhythm section composed of bassist John Herbert and drummer Eric McPherson. The tunes reflect Hill's ranging interests as a composer, and they are demanding in that listeners must locate themselves within them, and yet must also meet the composer's criteria. None of these compositions are brief. They are almost all in the eight- to nine-minute range. Check the opener, "Malachi," dedicated to Art Ensemble of Chicago bassist Malachi Favors. Hill's chords lay down a series of colors, slowly, purposefully, without artifice or idiomatic device; he calls the other players in a few at a time before letting them drop out while his piano meanders through the emotions he finds in his own harmonic inventions. In other places, such as on the South African-tinged title track, one can hear the song-like structures of Abdullah Ibrahim, but the knottiness of Hill's own conceptual melodic sense moves somewhere else. He intercepts, interjects, and dictates the lengths of solos. All the while he explores the edges of each tune, finding new chords to color the melody he's playing with his right hand. "Ry Round 1" has some interesting front line play between the horns, as Hill plays chordal counterpoint to accent the swing in the tune. Tardy's bass clarinet playing on "For Emilio" is utterly lovely and engaging, and his solo in the middle is bright -- full of nuance and color. He is a master of the instrument, and while he's accompanied beautifully by Herbert, he is continually inviting the rest of the band in to track the lyric. As usual, Hill plays all around the lyric -- through it, on top of it, and underneath it -- bringing out its subtleties in the process. Hill's gift lies in his ability to employ the tradition exactly as he means to, yet he also seems to look for the mystery inherent in the improvisation and the dialogue of musicians with one another. The balladic genius in "Whitsuntide" is all the more so because, in various places, such as in Tardy's tenor solo, the tune threatens to break out into something else and Hill responds by giving him large modal chords to play off of, but then leads him back. Time Lines is yet another landmark in one of the most astonishing careers in the history of jazz. ~ Thom Jurek
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Pax

Jazz - Released January 1, 2006 | Blue Note Records

Pax is one of those seminal Andrew Hill albums that sat locked in Blue Note's vaults for a decade before the first five cuts here were finally released as part of a double-LP package in 1975 entitled One for One. The final pair, recorded at the same time, didn't see the light of day until they appeared on the limited-edition Mosaic Select Blue Note recordings a decade after that. The personnel on this disc is a dream band: Hill with Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Richard Davis, and Joe Chambers. All of the these players but Hubbard had played with Hill before, and the telepathy is simply synchronistic. The opening cut, "Eris," is a sprawling blues clocking in at nearly 11 minutes. Full of Hill's knotty harmonics, and truly fiery playing by Hill and Hubbard, it's one of Hill's finest moments on record from the mid-'60s. "Calliope" is an off-kilter, medium tempo swing jam. There is a sense of time being stretched here that is simply uncanny. Of the two final tracks, being heard here by the general populace for the first time -- though this too is a limited edition in the Connoisseur Series (so the label can make you buy it again later in some other form) -- one was recorded sans horns. "Roots 'N' Herbs," (not Wayne Shorter's ) and the Afro-Cuban percussion and hypnotic bassline make it a curious midtempo ballad even as its meter shifts and floats and then becomes free before it enters the more conventional rock & roll backbeat rhythm pattern that Hill picks up on and stretches to the breaking point before it exhausts itself. The final cut is an interesting alternate of "Euterpe," which is not al that different from the first. In all, however, this is a semi-rough and wonderfully rowdy Hill date that deserves serious aural exploration. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Blue Note Records

Anyone familiar with Andrew Hill's music will find the cover to Andrew!!! a little bizarre, to say the least. Hill was one of the most intense and cerebral musicians on Blue Note's roster, incorporating avant-garde and modal techniques into his adventurous post-bop. The cover to Andrew!!! apparently is an attempt to humanize Hill -- it's a soft-focus close-up of a smiling Andrew Hill, who looks more like a teen idol than a serious jazz musician, and the first-name title is adorned with no less than three exclamation marks and a subtitle, "The Music of Andrew Hill," which suggests that it's an album of romantic, easy-listening standards. It's not. Andrew!!! is just as adventurous and challenging as any of his other albums, which is to Hill's credit. The pianist leads tenor saxophonist John Gilmore, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, bassist Richard Davis, and drummer Joe Chambers through a set of six original songs. Often, the music has a floating, hypnotic quality, which only makes Hill's dissonance, unusual voicings, and complex arrangements more compelling than usual. Andrew!!!, if anything, is even less accessible than the previous Point of Departure, but its restless, searching quality and endlessly provocative music makes it just as successful. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Jazz - Released December 31, 1987 | Soul Note

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Pianist Andrew Hill's first recording as a leader in six years was particularly notable for co-starring (and challenging) the underrated tenor Clifford Jordan. The quartet set (with bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Ben Riley) has six of Hill's typically challenging and complex inside/outside originals, a perfect outlet for Jordan and the pianist to interact. Stimulating and unusual music that is difficult to classify as anything but "modern jazz." ~ Scott Yanow

Jazz - Released December 31, 1987 | Soul Note

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Although Andrew Hill in this solo recital does wonders with the standards "Darn That Dream" and "Afternoon in Paris" and contributes two other superior originals, it is his breakdown of his striding "Verona Rag" that is most fascinating, transforming the piece from a spiritual-type rag into a very advanced improvisation. Hill, a true individualist, embodies the best in creative jazz. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | Blue Note Records

The 1966 edition of the Andrew Hill Quartet included saxophonist Sam Rivers, bassist Walter Booker, and drummer J.C. Moses. This group recorded what was to be the first of Andrew Hill's four "free" sessions for Blue Note. The other three were all recorded in 1967 and were solo piano sessions. Two of those dates along with an Artist House LP were released on the Mosaic Select Andrew Hill box. Hill's classic, brilliant, and still-outside date Dance with Death from 1968, featuring Joe Farrell, Charles Tolliver, Victor Sproles, and Billy Higgins, was not issued until 1980 and made its first compact disc appearance in 2004. Change has an interesting story in that it wasn't released at the time of recording and remained in the can until 1975, when it was issued under Sam Rivers' name as part of a Blue Note double as part of a two-LP set called Involution. The other disc was a Rivers-led date (from 1967) with a different band that hit CD shelves in 1998 under the title Dimensions and Extensions. Change as it was recorded and edited -- and even given a catalog number (84233) -- is supplemented here with two bonus tracks from the date. All this music was previously released on CD in limited edition (and now sold out) as The Complete Blue Note Andrew Hill Sessions (1963-66). This band plays outside, but this is not "free jazz" in the original sense of the term. In fact, it is music that is composed, with lots of room for improvisation, and one need go no further than the 11-minute opening cut, "Violence," where Hill's chords lie behind a bristling opening solo by Rivers. Hill takes the solo from Rivers, quoting from stride piano blues and Thelonious Monk, and then enters into a spiky duet with the saxophonist before a bass solo and Hill entering on harpsichord. Rivers brings the head back in and moves it to the margins again. This fiery interplay is a long example of what lies in wait for those who've never encountered this music before. It is Hill at his most intense and focused, with an eager group of players who were all excellent listeners. In contrast, "Pain," the album's second track, feels like anything but, with a swinging, Monk-like theme before Sproles takes over with a bass solo that keeps the theme in clear view. Rivers isn't present here at all; it's a trio number that strides and lopes with a killer piano solo by Hill. The saxophonist doesn't re-enter the picture until the middle of the next cut, "Illusion," with a Latin-tinged rhythmic motif and wonderful playing by Moses. When Rivers does enter, his melodic strut -- courtesy of the composer -- feels like a beautiful nod to Ornette. And so it goes with one delight after another -- including a gorgeous trio ballad called "Lust" that brought the original album to a close. This is one of the most out and out structured "free" dates of the entire 1960s. It's a shame this ensemble didn't get to record together more, because by album's end it feels like they're just getting started. Hill never got to see this date come out on its own on disc. He passed away a month and a half before. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Blue Note Records

Andrew Hill's Dance of Death, recorded in 1968 with a stellar band, was not issued until 1980. In the late 1960s, Blue Note was no longer the most adventurous of jazz labels. While certain titles managed to scrape through -- Eddie Gale's Ghetto Music did but only because Francis Wollf personally financed it -- many didn't. The label was firmly in the soul-jazz groove by then, and Hill's music, always on the edge, was deemed too outside for the label's roster. Musically, this is Hill at his most visionary. From hard- and post bop frames come modal and tonal inquiries of staggering complexity. Accompanied by trumpeter Charles Tolliver, saxophonist Joe Farrell, drummer Billy Higgins and bassist Victor Sproles, Hill engages, seemingly, all of his muses at once. Check out the sinister modal blues that is "Fish 'N' Rice" with its loping Eastern-tinged blues and loping horn lines around Hill's knotty fills in the head and choruses. In "Partitions" the steaming head is so rigorously tangled it's only the counterpoint of Hill's piano that makes an exit possible, with deep blues underpinnings and strident swinging soul. The title cut dances Afro-Cuban in the head, but Hill's piano is in a minor modal groove, with Higgins playing a textural, syncopated four-four as Sproles' punches on the two and four as the solos begin winding through the modes, bringing back the blues on tags. Dance of Death is a phenomenal record, one that wears its adventure and authority well. ~ Thom Jurek

Jazz - Released September 30, 1983 | 1201 MUSIC

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After four years mostly off of records, the innovative pianist/composer Andrew Hill re-emerged for this Freedom set, which has since been reissued on CD. The program is split between quintet numbers with altoist Lee Konitz (who doubles on soprano) and trumpeter Ted Curson, and quartet performances that showcase the somewhat forgotten altoist Robin Kenyatta. In addition, "Invitation," the one Hill nonoriginal, is taken as a spontaneous duet with Konitz. Although the music overall does not reach the heights of the pianist's earlier work for Blue Note (or his later sessions), there are enough surprising moments and thought-provoking solos to make this a release worth picking up by open-eared listeners. ~ Scott Yanow