Pianist and composer Andrew Hill, one of the most advanced pianists ever to have recorded for Blue Note, died on Friday at the age of 75. He had been suffering from lung cancer. Long admired for his Blue Note albums recorded in the 1960s, he recorded again for the label in recent years, part of a big upswing in his career in the late 1990s for which he received belated recognition and critical acclaim. He toured in England for the Contemporary Music Network with an Anglo-American big band and as recently as last year toured with UK players Jason Yarde and Byron Wallen.
Hill was born in Chicago although for many years he was thought to have been born in Haiti. He studied with classical composer Paul Hindemith and performed early in his career with Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. He made his name for Blue Note with Point of Departure and Black Fire, with such prominent musicians as Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Tony Williams and Eric Dolphy. But his success was short lived and he quickly moved out of the limelight and into the academic world, working as a teacher and later a professor, quietly influencing a new generation of players puzzled that he had become forgotten about. In 2003 he won the jazz world's Nobel prize, the Danish Jazzpar prize and began to experience wider acknowlegement of his work as a composer and pianist. He recorded for both Palmetto and Blue Note and was recently named a jazz master by the National Endowment for the Arts and was set to receive an honorary doctorate from Berklee College next month.