Andrew Hill - over nearly half a century, composer - pianist - ensemble leader Andrew has gained international jazz renown for his uniquely original music and recorded ouevre, which is by turns dark, fragile, funny, stark, unforgettable tuneful, percussive, insightful, oblique and mysterious.Hill began gigging in 1952, and in the summer of '53 accompanied alto saxophonist Charlie Parker at the Greystone Ballroom, in Detroit. In the mid '50's he rehearsed with Miles Davis, worked with Dinah Washington and Cole Hawkins, then organized his own trio and recorded "So in Love, his debut (featuring bassist Malachi Favors, a founder of the Art Ensemble of chicago, and drummer James Slaughter) in 1955.
Upon arriving to New York in 1961, hill performed with Rahsaan Roland Kirk before being contracted as a leader by Alfred Lyons, the founder of Blue Note records who proclaimed Hill his "last great protege" at the 1986 Mount Fuji Festival celebrating Blue Note's legacy
. Hill's Blue Note sessions from November 1963 through March '66 were released as the albums; Black Fire, Smokestack, Judgment, Point of Departure, Andrew!, Compulsion, One for One, and Innovation, recently compiled in the seven CD boxset The Complete Blue Note Andrew Hill sessions (1963-66) on Mosaic Records.
Hill returned to Blue Note in 1989 and '90 to record Eternal Spirit and But Not Farewell, both of which featured saxophonist Greg Osby, and again late in '99 as a guest on Osby's album The Invisible Hand. He also released albums on the Arista-Freedom and BlackSaint/Soul note labels during the '70s and '80s but spent most of these years (until the death of his wife La Verne in 1989) on the West Coast, offering solo concerts, classes and workshops in prison, social service and academic settings, also playing occasionally at international Jazz Festivals.
Hill's new Point of Departure Sextet, named for one of his best known Blue Note albums, was convened for the Texaco Jazz Festival of 1998 at the suggestion of Michael Dorf of the Knitting Factory, with advice from James Brown of the club Sweet Basil; the New York Times call Hill, "one of the 1960's jazz heroes," said the sextet's first concert was a triumphant return." The sextet has since held weeklong engagements at New York's Jazz Standard and Birdland, and performed memorabley at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Summer in 1999.
Besides Hill at the piano, its members included saxophonists Marty Ehrlich ( a veteran "downtowner" and musical associate of Muhal Richard Abrams, Julius Hemphill and John Zorn among others) and Greg Tardy (a new but already much in demand tenor soloists), trumpeter Ron Horton (a stalwart of the Jazz Composer's collective), backbone bassist Scott Colley and drummer Billy Drummond, one of the most imaginative post-bop swingers.
Hill has also formed a trio with bassist Colley and drummer Nashied Waits. He recently performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Duets on the Hudson series with vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson Spring 2000 and in a 60s all stars session with saxophonist Jackie Mclean at City University of New York, Aaron Davis Hall in June 2000. Hill has performed at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, opening the World Music Institute's Interpretations series, and also concertized at the studio Museum of Harlem. Columbia
University's WKCR-FM has broadcast Hill's entire discography (lasting more than 50 hours), and in 1997 for his 60th birthday, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jazz Foundation of America.