Andrew Hill is a highly individual pianist and composer who is often compared with Thelonious Monk and Cecil Taylor, if only by virtue of his uniqueness and forward-looking compositional style. In his teens, he played with Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, and others, and effectively became Chicago's house pianist for visiting artists. During the 1960s, after moving to New York, he made a number of excellent albums for Blue Note, under his own name and with Bobby Hutcherson and Joe Henderson. His later Blue Note sessions display a dense, turbulent, intensely gripping musical approach. He also enjoyed a resurgence of interest in 2003 with the long-delayed release of the large-group PASSING SHIPS which was originally recorded in 1969. Andrew Hill died in 2007.
Alfred Lion considered Andrew Hill his last major discovery and rightly so. Hill''s rich, rhythmic piano and utterly unique compositions stand alone. Point Of Departure is Hill''s masterpiece with rich three-horn arrangements for Kenny Dorham, Eric Dolphy and Joe Henderson. Richard Davis and Tony Williams complete this high level ensemble.
Three alternate takes have been added to the original LP.
In an extensive label catalog as uniformly excellent as Blue Note''s, it''s virtually impossible to pick "the greatest" album. Still, there''s little doubt that pianist Andrew Hill''s Point of Departure is one of the label''s most extraordinary recordings. Hill, a Chicagoan whose varied resumé as a sideman included stints with Dinah Washington, Jackie McLean, the Johnny Griffin/Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis band, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, was a perfect addition to the Blue Note roster: a thoroughly modern composer and a thoughtful soloist, capable of handling both leader dates and sideman roles. Indeed, Hill''s stature as the leader here would seem arbitrary were the album not all his compositions. Every player on the album is a band leader and trendsetter in his own right: trumpeter Kenny Dorham, reedmen Joe Henderson and Eric Dolphy, bassist Richard Davis, and drummer Anthony Williams. Employing a wide variety of meters, Point of Departure covers a broad range of material, from the angular and gripping "Refuge" though the shifting "Spectrum," to the brisk "Flight 19," and introspective closer, "Dedication." It is, in many ways, the classic Blue Note album: an intense, modern, and gripping performance. --Fred Goodman
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