The 47th of Jon Turney’s weekly selections is a notable return to the limelight for a piano master.
Andrew Hill hadn’t recorded for half a dozen years, so it was a great thing when he made this LP (and the excellent solo album Verona Rag) in three days on a summer visit to Italy in 1986.
Shades, and especially the trio tracks – Clifford Jordan makes it a quartet date about half the time, was a sparkler. The trio – with Rufus Reid on bass and Ben Riley on drums – are with Hill every step of the way, vital for a pianist who likes a pliable tempo. That allows his every spontaneous impulse free rein, knowing he has infallible support. It can sound idiosyncratic, but his musicality shines through.
This piece is a lesson in how to be percussively chordal while showing a brilliant control of keyboard touch. Tripping is a reference to that lightness of touch rather than to any alteration of consciousness I think, and it is matched by an intensely detailed accompaniment from Riley, while Reid growls away agreeably in the background.
There were more recordings to come – even a return to Blue Note with Greg Osby in the ‘90s– but this Italian gem remains a career highlight.
Hear the track on Spotify