Andrew Hill: Golden Spook
Andrew Hill (piano)
Blue Black (East Wind 9034)
Composed by Andrew Hill.
Recorded: New York, February 26, 1975
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
Andrew Hill's mid-1970s recordings are not as renowned as the music he made for Blue Note a few years prior, partly because they were recorded for small independent labels like East Wind which lacked the resources of a major. Perhaps the later albums are generally not as good, either, although I've not heard enough of them to say. The bossa-flavored "Golden Spook" from his 1975 East Wind album Blue Black is of a very high quality. In fact, it might be considered a masterpiece had the leader been anyone but Hill, whose earlier music set the bar so very high. As it is, the performance is merely excellent, not transcendent.
Hill himself is inspired. His loose rhythms, inventive harmonies, and stream-of-consciousness improvisations are as imitable as ever. What separates this from Blue Note-era Hill is his sidemen. Alto saxophonist Jimmy Vass is a sensitive, spontaneous improviser. He's a very, very fine player, but he hasn't the goosebump-raising originality and inner fire one gets from earlier Hill associates. The same can be said of bassist Chris White and drummer Leroy Williams, both of whom are very solid but ultimately rather ordinary here.
If "Refuge" from Hill's Point of Departure album (with a stellar cast that included Eric Dolphy, Kenny Dorham, Joe Henderson, Richard Davis and Tony Wiliams) earns a perfect score of 100, then "Golden Spook" can't be any better than a 95—plenty good, if not quite on a level with his best work.
Reviewer: Chris Kelsey