Over nearly half a century, composer-pianist-ensemble leader Andrew Hill gained international jazz renown for his uniquely original music and recorded ouevre, which is by turns dark, fragile, funny, stark, unforgettably tuneful, percussive, insightful, oblique, transparent and mysterious. With the release of Dusk (Palmetto Records), his first album in ten years, Hill reaches another peak, equaling high points of composition and collaboration he achieved in the 1960s with such innovators as Eric Dolphy, Kenny Dorham, John Gilmore, Roy Haynes, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Elvin Jones, Sam Rivers, Tony Williams and Reggie Workman, most often commissioned by Blue Note Records.
A folio of songs for sextet loosely inspired by Cane, Jean Toomer's classic volume of stories and poems published during the Harlem Renaissance, Dusk features Hill's New Point of Departure Sextet of virtuosi and the mature vision of an artist who has always flourished just beyond fame's spotlight, the better to see, hear, feel and create without its insistent glare. At age 63, Hill is especially gratified that there's plentiful new interest in his impeccable, elusive music — his teasing, just-beyond-grasp lyricism, his improvisations that simulate processes of thought, his themes that come together as naturally as night falls towards the end of a long day.
Hill was born in Chicago (despite mistaken information which prevailed for years that he arrived there in early childhood with his parents from Port au Prince, Haiti), raised in the heart of that city's black South Side, and discovered playing accordion and tapdancing outside his neighborhood's nightclubs and theaters by the great Earl Fatha Hines, who liked what he heard and told young Andrew, I should be your master. Stan Kenton's arranger- trombonist Bill Russo also encouraged Hill, and introduced him to German composer-music theorist-in-exile Paul Hindemith, who corrected the notation of the youth's nascent yet intriguing compositional style.