Andrew Hill: Soul Special
Andrew Hill (piano)
Grass Roots (Blue Note 22672)
Frank Mitchell (tenor sax), Jimmy Ponder (guitar).
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, April 19, 1968
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
With Andrew Hill, one of Blue Note’s more idiosyncratic and challenging pianists, listeners can expect surprises—but a boogaloo? There are always blues implications underneath Hill’s unique concept, and while the groove and harmony of “Soul Special” are undeniably funk based, the mix of improvisational styles sets it apart from other late-'60s rare grooves. Guitarist Jimmy Ponder’s licks come from the bottom of the soul-jazz bag, and tenorman Frank Mitchell unfurls some short, bluesy, bop-inflected phrases. With his pentatonicism, Woody Shaw is as “in-the-pocket” as ever (dig his shocking entrance). Hill’s ambiguous harmonic and rhythmic approach, however, stands out amongst all. His abstract phrasing and crunchy, dissonant clusters keep things distinctly avant-garde while still respecting the groove.
Reviewer: Matt Leskovic
Tags: blue note