Release date: February 2006
Returning to Blue Note after a break of 16 years at the invitation of Michael Cuscuna, Andrew Hill’s “Time Lines” shows the development in his music and approach since the heady days of the first Blue Note and the breakthroughs of 60’s jazz when he has regarded as Alfred Lion’s “last protégée”. There is a quiet confidence about much of “Time Lines” that was unreachable then when so much had come down to the sound and fury of youth and the compelling need to tear down barriers. Not that there is any real recanting in the conception of music as an essentially non-linear form; however there is a stillness and a creative centre to many of these pieces that had escaped him before.
The band is Andrew Hill’s own - Greg Tardy (tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet); John Hebert (bass); Eric McPherson (drums). There is an understanding and empathy that comes from time spent playing live dates together. Added is Charles Tolliver (trumpet), a long time collaborator who is just right for the new maturity of conception and sound. “Malachi”, a long, quiet, impressionistic piece sets the tone. It is reprised in a solo piano version as a kind of finale to round off the album, giving an almost symphonic structure and making the individual pieces seem much more like a part composed, part freely improvised whole.
Only the title track “Time Lines” with its difficult 11/8 against sixth time and its repetitive single note on piano repeatedly echoed on saxophone and trumpet speaks loudly of the earlier lack of approachability. “Ry Round” is a pleasantly distorted blues form with echoes of Miles Davis’ mid ‘sixties experimentation and again this piece is reprised in a second version before the finale. Again, on “For Emilio” there are strong echoes of the time no changes approach of Miles Davis with Charles Tolliver’s trumpet playing making this even more explicit. “Whitsuntide” is an almost lyrical ensemble piece in which the hint of atonality and the juxtaposed time signatures give a sense of struggle of beauty over reality, of innocence over experience. “Smooth” comes over as an antidote to smooth jazz.
A remarkable achievement.
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