Andrew Hill (June 30, 1931 – April 20, 2007) was an American jazz pianist and composer.
Hill is recognized as one of the most important innovators of jazz piano in the 1960s. His most-lauded work was recorded for Blue Note Records, spanning nearly a decade and a dozen albums.
In 1950, he learned his first blues changes on the piano from the saxophonist Pat Patrick and in 1953, he played his first professional job as a musician, with Paul Williams' band. "At that time", he recalls, "I was playing baritone sax as well as piano." During the next few years, the piano gigs brought him into contact with a passel of musicians, some of whom became relevant influences: Joe Segal and Barry Harris, amongst others. In 1961, after travelling as an accompanist for Dinah Washington, the young pianist settled in New York City where he worked for Johnny Hartman and Al Hibbler, then briefly moved to Los Angeles County, where he worked with Roland Kirk's quartet and at the jazz club Lighthouse Café, in Hermosa Beach. It was then that he met his bride-to-be, Laverne Gillette, at the time an organist at the Red Carpet. They married in 1963 and moved to New York. She died following a long illness in California, where the couple had moved.
Hill first recorded as a sideman in 1954, but his reputation was made by his Blue Note recordings as leader from 1963 to 1970, which featured several other important post-bop musicians including Joe Chambers, Richard Davis, Eric Dolphy, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Elvin Jones, Woody Shaw, Tony Williams, and John Gilmore. Hill also played on albums by Henderson, Hutcherson, and Hank Mobley. His distinctive compositions accounted for three of the five pieces on Bobby Hutcherson's classic Dialogue album.
Hill rarely worked as a sideman after the 1960s, preferring to play his own compositions. This may have limited his public exposure. He later taught in California and was an associate professor on a tenure track at Portland State University. During his time at PSU, he established a Summer Jazz Intensive program, in addition to performing, conducting workshops and attending residencies at other universities such as Wesleyan University, University of Michigan, University of Toronto, Harvard University and Bennington College. He married dancer/educator Joanne Robinson Hill in Portland in 1992. They moved to New York City in 1995. His final public performance was on March 29, 2007 at Trinity Church in New York City. Andrew Hill suffered from lung cancer during the last years of his life. He died at his home in Jersey City.
In May 2007, he became the first person to receive a posthumous honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music. ClearartWide ThumbFanart Banner User Comments