52 Jazz Tracks for 2021. 47. ‘Tripping’ – Andrew Hill, Shades, 1986

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.

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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

More on this recording on Jon’s Bristol Jazz Log

Read Jon’s introduction to the ’52 tracks’ series

Week 46. Mighty Lights – Jane Ira Bloom

Spotify playlist for the series

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