Andrew Hill: Compulsion




Andrew Hill (piano)


Compulsion!!!!! (Blue Note 84217)

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Andrew Hill (piano), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), John Gilmore (tenor sax), Cecil McBee (pizzicato bass), Richard Davis (arco bass), Joe Chambers (drums),

Nadi Qamar (African drums, African thumb piano, percussion); Renaud Simmons (percussion)


Composed by Andrew Hill


Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, October 8, 1965


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

“Compulsion” is one of my all-time favorites. I can say right now that the whole album, and particularly this piece, gets 100! People see this album as Andrew’s kind of breakthrough into the avant-garde. What’s amazing about it for me is that it’s so carefully orchestrated and compositional. He has sculpted this series of spaces for improvisation to take place. They end up being solo features, but the texture for each solo is specific and beguiling—the way he worked with the percussionists to create these sort of vortices, these swirling textures, as well as the incredible sonics he elicits from the piano. For the most part, it’s not really tonal. These orchestrated motives connect the different sections, and in his accompaniment to the solos by John Gilmore and Freddie Hubbard Andrew elicits these terrifying resonances from the piano that make you rethink aspects of harmony. Everything he plays feels so right even though it doesn’t seem to have any obvious connection to tonality that we’re used to. It’s more than a breakthrough into the avant-garde; it’s a real breakthrough with harmony and texture and form. Then, to hear John Gilmore in this context is so incredible, too. It’s rare to hear him outside of Sun Ra’s context, and, of course, they had this Chicago connection. John Gilmore’s solo entrance. . . if you just hear a few seconds of it, you could mistake it for a Sun Ra record, not even necessarily from this period, but from later on, like the ‘70s. So there’s something visionary

Reviewer: Vijay Iyer

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