The Black Saint/
Soul Note label provided a great home to pianist Andrew Hill in his post-Blue Note years – as you'll hear here in a cool package that features four different albums, each in tiny sleeves with their original artwork! First up is Faces Of Hope – later solo work from Andrew Hill – an Italian session with four long tracks, and a fair bit of sensitive tones throughout! The record definitely has some of Hill's tentative qualities of the period – playing that almost makes you feel like he's rediscovering the keyboard of the piano with each new track – but there's also a subtle sort of warmth as well, especially at points when Andrew relaxes into an area he's been hovering around for a few measures – relaxing just a bit, and relishing the sound. Titles include "Rob It Mohe", "Ceora", "Bayside 1", and "Bayside 2". Strange Serenade is a brooding little album from pianist Andrew Hill – played with an excellent trio that includes Alan Silva on bass and Freddie Waits on drums and percussion! Hill's angular lines on piano really direct the action of the set – often moving with a tentative quality that's pretty great – never too introspective to lose their edge, but always looking inward in search of the next step in sound – in ways that are a delight to hear Silva and Waits follow along. Tracks are all quite long, and titles include "Mist Flower", "Reunion", "Andrew", and "Strange Serenade". Verona Rag features more solo piano from Andrew Hill – done in that long-flowing mature style that he pulled out in later years – an approach that could be as warm as it was constantly creative! Titles include "Retrospect", "Afternoon In Paris", "Verona Rag", "Darn That Dream", and "Tinkering". On Shades, Andrew Hill works mostly in a trio – a great group with Rufus
Reid on bass and Ben Riley on drums – but also gets some help from Clifford Jordan's tenor on a few tracks, which really makes the album stand out from other Hill dates of the time! The core group is already great – and Reid and Riley bring a slightly straighter vibe to the date, and a sound that's filled with plenty of soul – and when Jordan joins in, there's almost a classic hardbop approach going on – quite a change from usual for Andrew, and proof that he can handle just about anything that comes his way. Hill still throws out plenty of creative piano lines throughout – those deft, modern moments that are always illuminating, even amidst a straighter swing – with a tension that's not unlike his Grass Roots album. Titles include "Ball Square", "Domani", "La Verne", "Monk's Glimpse", and "Tripping".