Andrew Hill, Point Of Departure (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition)

Kevin Whitehead

By Kevin Whitehead

on 05.18.11 in Reviews

Point Of Departure (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition)

Andrew Hill
A pianist of no party or clique; He’s shifty in a good way

Hill was a pianist of no party or clique: a little too outside to be a hard bopper, and not out enough to be avant-garde. Middle-way ambiguities were a specialty. The front line on this 1964 standout mixes bop trumpeter Kenny Dorham and outcat Eric Dolphy (ear-popping on bass clarinet and alto), with brawny tenor Joe Henderson mediating between. Hill's compositions may run up a couple of bars longer or shorter than you'd expect, and one tune keeps slipping from 4/4 time into 5/4 or 3/4. On "Refuge" and the magnificent three-horn leapfrog "Flight 19," drummer Tony Williams and bassist Richard Davis double and halve the tempo so often, you lose track of which tempo is home. (Williams soon brought that trick of perspective to Miles Davis's quintet, which ran with it.) As pianist or composer, Hill can seem playful and melancholy at once: He's shifty in a good way.