Review - Black Fire

Artist: Andrew Hill


This 1963 quartet date is one of Hill's most impressive recordings, and for a composer/pianist of Hill's ability, that's saying a lot. Although Hill would expand his ideas to exponentially more far-out degrees with later works, the compositional integrity – and improvisational firepower – of his Blue Note debut as a leader is still inspiring some 40 years later. The tight-but-daring arrangements of the seven album tracks (two unreleased takes are tacked on to this remastered edition) are invigorating and, whether the deceptively straightforward lurch of "Pumpkin" or the puzzling structures of "Land of Nod," they're still quite evocative tunes. In the capable hands of then-young lions like Joe Henderson, Richard Davis and Roy Haynes, Hill's magical pieces truly come alive with the sort of heat the title implies.