Andrew Hill: Refuge
Andrew Hill (piano)
Point of Departure (Blue Note 84167)
Composed by Andrew Hill.
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, March 21, 1964
Rating: 100/100 (learn more)
Point of Departure is one of the first CDs I ever bought, around 1990 or 1991, when I first got a CD player, when I was 19 or 20 years old. I had to save up! Prior to that I was all about vinyl and cassettes. That makes me feel old. Anyway, this is a landmark composition of a landmark recording, with such an intense combination of virtuosos. Everybody sounds great on it, and itís simply a classic! I remember in the liner notes Hill called it a blues, which is mysterious, because it has all these chords that you donít associate with the blues, and it feels like a long form; itís actually a 24-bar progression in 6/4, so it has this sort of large extent to it. But if you hear each 8-bar section as if it were one-third of a blues progression, then that alignment makes more sense. But I also feel that the alignment with blues is more conceptual.
I transcribed the piece at one point for a performance in Oakland that was a tribute to Eric Dolphy, and we tried to do a bunch of things that Dolphy was featured on in addition to his own music. I had to sit with this one for a long time, because some mysterious stuff goes on with the inner voices. I donít remember exactly, but I think this was the piece that Andrew referred to in the liner notes either to the Mosaic box set or the original album. He said something about finding the mode that works over the entire song. Itís as though some set of common tones persists through the entire harmonic progression, which, when you look at the changes, is counter-intuitive, because there are a lot of passing chords that seem to move through different keys. But then, when he improvises, you hear the unity.
Anyway, this is a masterful composition. The solos are great. Dolphyís entrance is one of the great musical moments of the whole album. Tony Williams sounds incredible. Itís fascinating to hear Tony Williams with Richard Davis and Andrew, this intersection of these different streams of creativity from the Ď60s.
Reviewer: Vijay Iyer