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

2019-11-07
Glenn Smith RIP – Glenn Smith, founder, mandolinist, and primary composer of the DeLand, Florida based prog / fusion band Magnatar, passed away on October 18th 2019 at the age of 68, after a brief illness.  » Read more

2019-11-04
Dino Brassea RIP – Word reaches us of the passing of Dino Brassea, who sang and played flute in Cast for many years. By our count, Brassea appeared on 11 Cast albums between 1994 and 2002. He also released music as a solo artist. » Read more

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Rebuilding the Rights of Statues - Watch Out! Climate Has Changed, Fat Mum Rises... – The band with the awkward name has released an album with a name even more awkward. The band is generally called Re-TROS, and I'll call the album Watch Out. Since their 2005 release (Cut Off!)...  (2010) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues