Andrew Hill: Siete Ocho
Andrew Hill (piano)
Judgment (Blue Note 63841)
Composed by Andrew Hill.
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, January 8, 1964
Rating: 99/100 (learn more)
This is a fascinating intersection, because we have Andrew Hill with Elvin Jones, two powerful forces. Also, Hill and Bobby Hutcherson had a powerful relationship over the decades, which is well crystallized on this album. This is their first recording together; Dialogue came later. Itís a great composition. As the title suggests, itís a 7-beat metrical form. The head is 20 bars. Andrew loved these irregular forms. Often the three-fold nature of the blues form came through in his compositions, even if they didnít strictly adhere to that exact form. Itís more like these different sections would answer each other in unexpected, irregular ways that got away from the Tin Pan Alley, 32-bar format. He had interesting ways of grouping things.
Everything about this piece is greatóthe intensity, the lyrical quality, and especially hearing Elvin Jones drive this 7-beat cycle. Elvin sounds fantastic. The bassline is this insistent vamp, a rhythmic ostinato that persists throughout, and Richard Davis, perhaps more than is typical for him, anchors that rhythmic figure very firmly. I think often that happens when you introduce novel rhythmic structure: people hew to the written foundation a little more, because itís less obvious how to depart from it. But here, because Davis does that, it frees up everyone else. Things get a bit ragged at times, but thatís because theyíre reaching beyond the obvious. For example, what Andrew does in his solo strikes me every time I listen to this track. He creates his own rhythmic gravity. Towards the climax of his solo, the original rhythm becomes dwarfed by the intensity of his own rhythmic space that heís creating, so you hear that 7/8 part as a mere satellite orbiting Andrewís solo. Itís mesmerizing.
Reviewer: Vijay Iyer