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Compulsion (1965)

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Richard Davis

Compulsion continues Andrew Hill's progression, finding the pianist writing more complex compositions and delving even further into the avant-garde. Working with a large, percussion-heavy band featuring Freddie Hubbard (trumpet, flugelhorn), John Gilmore (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet), Cecil McBee (bass), Joe Chambers (drums), Renaud Simmons (conga), Nadi Qamar (percussion), and, for one track, Richard Davis (bass), Hill has created one of his most challenging dates. The extra percussion is largely used for texture, as is the dueling bass on "Premonition," and that's one of the reasons why the record is so interesting -- it's a provocative, occasionally unsettling set of shifting tonal colors. Hill's compositions often seem more like sketches and blueprints than full-fledged songs. This, of course, is not a bad thing, since this approach allows the musicians room to improvise and discover evocative new sounds. Overall, Compulsion doesn't hold together as well as Black Fire or Point of Departure, but the session has enough fiery, challenging highlights to make it necessary for Hill fans. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine