Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Portland Jazz Festival: A Celebration of ECM

Andrew Hill

This world premiere of music from Passing Ships, Hill’s 1969 Blue Note recording which was shelved for decades and issued for the first time in 2003, was made all the more meaningful in view of the composer’s recent bout with lung cancer. Given the severity of his illness, there was a heightened sense of drama about this historic event, presented as part of Merkin Hall’s ongoing series, “Reissue: Classic Recordings Live.” And the visionary composer surpassed all expectations with music that was as provocative and captivating today as it would have been 37 years ago, had it been released.

A remarkably ambitious work for its time, Passing Ships was a precursor of the kind of writing that Hill would pursue more than 30 years later with his big band (documented on 2002’s acclaimed A Beautiful Day). Originally scored for brass quintet, a single reeds player and three-piece rhythm section, this unconventional nonet work stands as a masterpiece in Hill’s discography. And while the performance this evening would’ve benefited from a bit more rehearsal, the overall effect nonetheless galvanized an audience of longtime fans, friends, fellow musicians, critics and assorted industry types.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published