52 jazz tracks for 2021. 47. ‘Tripping’ – Andrew Hill, Shades, 1986 – News, reviews, articles and commentaries from the London jazz scene and beyond

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The 47th of Jon Turney’s weekly caps is a remarkable return to the front of the stage for a master of the piano.

Andrew Hill hadn’t recorded in half a dozen years, so it was a good thing when he made this LP (and the excellent solo album Verona cloth) in three days during a summer visit to Italy in 1986.

Nuances, and especially the trio pieces – Clifford Jordan in fact a quartet date about half the time, was a sparkler. The trio – with Rufus reid on bass and Ben riley on drums – accompany Hill every step of the way, vital for a pianist who likes a soft tempo. It gives free rein to all of his spontaneous impulses, knowing that he has unfailing support. It may sound idiosyncratic, but its musicality shines through.

This piece is a lesson in how to be in percussive tuning while showing brilliant control over the touch of the keyboard. Tripping is a reference to that lightness of touch rather than any alteration of consciousness, I think, and it’s paired with intensely detailed accompaniment from Riley, while Reid growls pleasantly in the background.

There were other recordings to come – even a return to Blue Note with Greg Osby in the ’90s – but this Italian gem remains a highlight of his career.

Listen to the song on Spotify

More information about this recording on Jon’s Bristol Jazz Log

Read Jon’s introduction to the “52 tracks” series

Week 46. Powerful Lights – Jane Ira Bloom

Spotify playlist for the series

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