Pressing Issues: Andrew Hill, Andrew!!! (1970 Blue Note Liberty UA pressing)

Original Pressing: Blue Note Records, BLP 4203 & BST 84203 (1968)
This one: BST 84203 (1970, Liberty UA)

Musicians
Andrew Hill (p), John Gilmore (ts), Bobby Hutcherson (vib), Richard Davis (b), Joe Chambers (d)

Cover design: Reid Miles; Liner notes: Don Heckman

Recorded by Rudy Van Gelder at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, June 25, 1964.


As with so many Blue Note titles of the ’60s, Andrew!!! would see a number of years go by between the session date and the album release—about four years in this case. At times, these delays were due to the company hedging its bets by amassing a backlog of product, just in case they needed it down the line. And sometimes, it was due to unexpected trends in the market.1  What strikes me here the most is how different the music on Andrew!!! is from the legendary Point of Departure, which was recorded just three months earlier. Different indeed, yet maintaining the qualities that make it an Andrew Hill record. And highly recommended for those who might want to give Andrew Hill another chance, especially after having been scared off by Point of Departure!

Where Departure is nothing if not angular (sorry, I think that word is overused, too, but I can’t think of a better one), Andrew!!! is almost mainstream in comparison. Lots of more conservative jazz listeners (and musicians) in the ’60s found the avant garde to be virtually unlistenable. And  even though I love the music, I know it could never be called truly “accessible.” But Andrew!!! is full of so many straightforwardly beautiful melodies and harmonies, that I wonder if it could have garnered Hill a slightly larger following had it been released after Departure.

With the exception of bassist Richard Davis, it is an entirely different group Andrew has surrounded himself with. Perhaps that’s the difference. Or maybe it’s the compositions? I’m thinking it’s probably a little of both. Eric Dolphy was just sooo Eric Dolphy on the earlier record, especially in his solo on “Refuge.” (Rumor has it that session-mate Kenny Dorham was not a Dolphy fan.) And Tony Williams could probably make a session with Dinah Shore sound like it was part of the New Thing. But with the present record, all the soloists, including Hill, take their cues more from traditional harmonies rather than the frontiers of modernism. Whereas Bobby Hutcherson sounds way out on many of his other early dates as a sideman, he demonstrates his range here by playing more “in” as opposed to out.

Collecting Notes

  • 1970 Liberty UA, blue/black label
  • VAN GELDER stamp in run-out
  • EX/EX

This one was a no-brainer to bid on: Andrew Hill, a collector-friendly price range, and a grading that always catches my eye. And I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I do really love the labels from this era, short-lived as they may have been. Compared to the “black B” and “white B” grotesqueries that were on the horizon, these are like eye candy. I have three of these blue/black pressings in my collection, and so far so good, they all sound great. A solid option for the budget-minded collector, indeed.

 

What are your thoughts on the blue/black Liberty UAs? 


1. Lee Morgan’s Search for the New Land famously sat for two years after it was recorded, as Blue Note attempted to capitalize on the surprise success of The Sidewinder. When the title tune from that album became a top 100 hit on the Billboard charts, Lee was whisked into the studio to record another boogaloo, which resulted in The Rumproller leapfrogging Search on the release schedule.

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