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Pax (1965)


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Richard Davis

Pax is one of those seminal Andrew Hill albums that sat locked in Blue Note's vaults for a decade before the first five cuts here were finally released as part of a double-LP package in 1975 entitled One for One. The final pair, recorded at the same time, didn't see the light of day until they appeared on the limited-edition Mosaic Select Blue Note recordings a decade after that. The personnel on this disc is a dream band: Hill with Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Richard Davis, and Joe Chambers. All of the these players but Hubbard had played with Hill before, and the telepathy is simply synchronistic. The opening cut, "Eris," is a sprawling blues clocking in at nearly 11 minutes. Full of Hill's knotty harmonics, and truly fiery playing by Hill and Hubbard, it's one of Hill's finest moments on record from the mid-'60s. "Calliope" is an off-kilter, medium tempo swing jam. There is a sense of time being stretched here that is simply uncanny. Of the two final tracks, being heard here by the general populace for the first time -- though this too is a limited edition in the Connoisseur Series (so the label can make you buy it again later in some other form) -- one was recorded sans horns. "Roots 'N' Herbs," (not Wayne Shorter's ) and the Afro-Cuban percussion and hypnotic bassline make it a curious midtempo ballad even as its meter shifts and floats and then becomes free before it enters the more conventional rock & roll backbeat rhythm pattern that Hill picks up on and stretches to the breaking point before it exhausts itself. The final cut is an interesting alternate of "Euterpe," which is not al that different from the first. In all, however, this is a semi-rough and wonderfully rowdy Hill date that deserves serious aural exploration. ~ Thom Jurek