Seems like it’s been days since I sat down to write. In fact, it’s been three days. I’ve been outside the last two days doing years worth of procrastination landscaping. I know it’s much easier to do the work a bit more often, as opposed to waiting 4, 5 years and doing it all in two days. My body certainly thinks it’s easier. Well, I never learn and spent Saturday and Sunday digging, lifting, chopping and spreading. The end result is something quite nice. New brick edging around the side of the house and freshly laid mulch around our egress window. Looks damn nice, in fact.
Besides that back breaking work, I picked up at my local brick ‘n mortar Friday night a copy of Herbie Hancock’s Takin’ Off and Andrew Hill’s Black Fire. Two classic jazz records lovingly reissued by Blue Note. They both sound impeccable.
I’ve been listening to Hancock and Hill for close to 8 years now. I bought Hancock’s Empyrean Isles and Hill’s Point Of Departure both around 2007. I used to listen to Accu Radio on my computer at work. I’d set it to the 60’s jazz channel and would hear so much great music on there. That’s where my love of Coltrane, Davis, Monk, Hancock, and Hill came from. I’d dabbled in jazz since the early 90s, but not until allowing internet radio to take me on a tour of hard bop’s heroes did I truly find a love for these truly creative souls.
I’d actually bought Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters back in 2005 and fell hard that record’s hard funk. But once I delved into Hancock’s earlier work my eyes were opened to his intellectual side of composition. To go from a track like “The Egg” to “Chameleon” shows some serious depth and growth. Hancock eased into the times flawlessly. I think his love of Miles Davis’ journey into the world of psychedelic rock and street smarts(On The Corner is an unabashed triumph of brains and brawn in my opinion) I think had a serious affect of Hancock and the direction he started going, beginning with his stint with Warner Brothers.
Andrew Hill, on the other hand, is in a category on his own. I think he could be described as more of an avante garde jazz composer than a hard bop player. His music is more complex and steeped in social awareness. Compared to guys like Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, and the later Coltrane stuff, Andrew Hill’s music is still very approachable and even welcoming at times. But make no mistake, Hill was a true innovator and a complex creator of melody. According to the liner notes on the back sleeve of Black Fire written by A.B. Spellman:
Andrew Hill was born in Port au Prince, Haiti, in 1936. His family moved to Chicago when he was 4 “so we could starve a little better,” where Hill, a sickly child, attended the University of Chicago Experimental School. Hill started playing jazz at 13 with his own “baby band,” a trio which used to copy all the techniques then on Chicago air. He remembers copying Bud Powell’s, Thelonious Monk’s and Art Tatum’s solos verbatim, and it is these three gurus who one hears most in Hill’s playing.
I won’t pretend to understand the complexity of the music these two guys create. In fact, I have no idea what they’re doing or where they’re coming from. Listening they both sound like they were steeped in classical composers at one point in their lives, then the muse of jazz took them over. It’s a beautiful mix of both worlds, classical and jazz, that truly defines these incredible musicians and composers. As band leaders they give their musicians a direction and purpose, but never take away their personalities as players and individuals. I have the utmost respect for that.
What else have I done this weekend besides get weird with some hard bop and work my arse off in the yard? Well, I watched the season premiere of the new season of Hannibal. It was amazing, as I suspected it would be. The look of the show is stunning, and Brian Reitzell’s music score is second to none. Mads Mikkelsen, while I never thought I’d say this, I believe has surpassed Sir Anthony Hopkins as the deliciously wonderful Hannibal Lecter. I will always love Hopkins as Hannibal the Cannibal, but Mikkelsen has taken the character into a new direction and I love it. Gillian Anderson is perfect as Hannibal’s therapist and partner on the run Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier. Bryan Fuller has made one of the best shows on television. It’s pretty much a triumph on every level.
That’s all I got. Time for a couple Ibuprofen.