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
Week 46. Powerful Lights – Jane Ira Bloom