Exposé Online banner

Red Hill — Red Hill
(RareNoise RNR044, 2014, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2014-10-13

Red Hill Cover art

Free jazz has been around for decades, and has taken so many forms as to defy analysis, which is of course completely appropriate given the music's nature. If there is a definition of free jazz, it must surely include the statement that it cannot be defined. It also comes as given that no two recordings of free jazz will sound alike other than in terms so broad as to be meaningless. Red Hill features trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, pianist Jamie Saft, bassist Joe Morris, and drummer Balász Pándi, who went into the studio with no preconceived ideas (at least none that were shared with the others) and recorded a set of adventurous improvisations. Saft's playing here is acrobatic and often quite busy, along the lines of Cecil Taylor or Satoko Fujii (to name a couple I'm familiar with); he uses a Fender Rhodes on one track for a little tonal variety. There are also some bits that sound like either preparations on the piano or reaching in to strike the strings in alternate ways. Smith handles his trumpet with his characteristic flair, blasting out quick bursts of notes, backing off to sneak out subtle, airy tones, squeezing out high points of sound like fireworks popping in the sky, or slipping in a mute to give us a different perspective. Morris uses both fingers and bow on his double bass, setting moods and providing additional tone colors, getting some very interesting overtones by unconventional bowing techniques (I'm guessing). Pándi has the knack of providing propulsive drum parts even when not playing a consistent beat, using his kit fully and not overwhelming the others. Red Hill may not play music you'd want to listen to every day, but as free improvisation goes, they make a joyful noise rather than an angst-ridden racket. I'll take this over Wynton Marsalis any day.


Filed under: New releases, 2014 releases

Related artist(s): Wadada Leo Smith, Red Hill, Jamie Saft, Balázs Pándi

Latest news

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Alquimia & Jose Luis Fernandez Ledesma - Dead Tongues – Alquimia is a vocalist, composer and multi-instrumentalist who has three previous albums to her credit in the pre-hispanic/new electronic music area, while Fernandez Ledesma is the de-facto leader of...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues