I got this album through the post from Amazon only a few days after hearing that Andrew Hill had died, so listening to it has been a poignant experience. Trying to be objective after several plays I'd say this is definitely a real classic. It's surprising it has been released so late in the Hill reissue series because it's one of the albums Blue Note actually released at the time - 1965 - and along with "Point of Departure" is probably Hill's most avant garde record (though not "free blowing"). There are 4 lengthy tracks forming a kind of suite. The liner notes compare it with Cecil Taylor's Blue Note classic from the same year "Unit Structures" - which might be misleading but certainly Hill's piano playing here is very abstract, percussive & closer to Taylor than Monk. A typically idiosyncratic line-up: Hill-piano, two (!) bass players (as on "Smokestack"), Joe Chambers - drums (brilliant), Freddie Hubbard (in his best period) on trumpet, plus Sun Ra legend John Gilmore on sax (as on "Andrew"). Gilmore's solos are striking, even managing an exotic bass clarinet thing. But the real surprise is the addition of a couple of African percussionists. For long stretches you get this fairly abstract top over an incessant trance-like afro rhythm. Amazing! The only disappointment is that there is a fade-out - but no bonus complete extended or alternate takes. Interesting original liner notes from Nat Hentoff with Hill's 1965 thoughts on cultural identity. New notes from Bob Blumenthal. This remastered edition overseen by Cuscuna & Van Gelder.
i bought my copy of Compulsion!!!! a few years ago on amazon as keen to investigate this outsider jazz pianist.
despite the other in depth amazon reviews obviously from Hill fans, as a big jazz fan i thought i'd add some wider perspective... Compulsion!!!! is for most a bit of a tough trawl through 4 moody tracks that offer little variation from the over riding feeling of angst , searching and discontent. i'm not a blind fan of only bepop / blue note boogaloo or of the modal only school either ,admiring the broadly similar angularities of some Cecil Taylor , the swinging free-ish big band of Sun Ra, the spiritual Coltrane etc. However the music contained here just doesn't vary enough in mood or content or should i say discontent. depsite also featuring a rare recorded outing from Sun Ra sax guru John Gilmore - his usual joyous blasts of free-ish tenor and bass clarinet are decidelty muted here . a shame.
The groundbreaking pianist/composer Andrew Hill(1937-2007) recorded this session for BLUE NOTE in New Jersey on October 8, 1965. 'Compulsion!!!!!' features John Gilmore(tenor sax, bass clarinet) on a rare holiday from Sun Ra's Arkestra; Freddie Hubbard(trumpet, flugelhorn); Cecil McBee(bass) & Richard Davis(bass, on track 3); Joe Chambers(drums); Nadi Qamar(African drums, thumb piano, percussion); Renaud Simmons(congas, percussion). The four tracks are all Hill compositions and the music can be described as heavily percussive avant-garde jazz. 'Compulsion!!!!!' has been compared to Cecil Taylor's 'Unit Structures' and, although not as accessible as Hill's 1963 BLUE NOTE masterpiece 'Black Fire' the passionate and complex music on this RVG Edition(2007) deserves to be heard.
Any album with five exclamation marks !!!!! after the title promises something out of the ordinary and this definitely delivers.
The key element to this album is the presence of two percussionists in addition to Joe Chamber's drums but rather than giving the music a funky feel it sounds almost tribal. Hill's own playing adds to the very dense sound.
The chance to hear John Gilmore away from Sun Ra is what made me buy this record and I wasn't disappointed. He is often cited as an influence on John Coltrane and you can certainly hear the similarities and although Gilmore has a harsher, tighter tone he's the equal in power. Freddie Hubbard as always sounds great but I'm not sure if he's as connected to what the other musicians are doing as Gilmore clearly is. (Gilmore also plays brilliantly on Hill's 'Andrew!!!' album from 1964.)
This is not easy or straightforward Jazz but if you're willing to put in the effort to really listen you'll be amply rewarded.
I can be very quick to switch off when listening to music but this album had me enthralled from start to finish. I may be wrong but the musicians really seem to be expressing themselves in a refreshingly honest way. Musically, a welcome change from the endless be-bop cliches I've been listening to lately!