When Rossini was asked for his opinion of Wagner, he replied, “Wagner has some beautiful moments, but many boring hours.” At first hearing Andrew Hill’s latest, recorded because he won the Jazzpar Prize, I was tempted to be equally flip about the CD. But there’s an inherent danger in commenting on first hearings, particularly when there’s so much going on in the music. There is always a gap between innovation and acceptance. Think about the 1913 premiere of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” Fistfights broke out at the Paris concert hall; today its language sounds pretty tame. The language of this recording is so highly personal, so mystical, it requires careful, repeated listening until the fog lifts. Besides, you can’t ignore anything created by a talent as compelling as Andrew Hill. Along with him on piano there are seven instrumentalists; the plus is singer Lenora Zenzalai Helm who contributes a memorable vocal on “Brother.”
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