Andrew Hill – Lift Every Voice

Lift Every Voice

Andrew HillLift Every Voice Blue Note BST 84330 (1970)

Andrew Hill is known for his chameleon-like style on piano (like Jaki Byard).  Paradoxically, Lift Every Voice is an unusual album because it doesn’t sound unusual.  With a great band in tow, Hill is joined by a vocal choir arranged by Marshall Brown (the mastermind behind Pee-Wee Russell‘s late career comeback).  The vocals take this very much into the territory of commercial-sounding late-Sixties music — reminiscent of Oliver Nelson‘s output for Hollywood or even the likes of Leonard Feather Presents the Sound of Feeling and the Sound of Oliver Nelson.  It is well played, but not particularly moving by Hill’s high standards.  The bluesy “Ghetto Lights” is probably the best offering.  A 2001 CD reissue adds a number of unreleased songs from the sessions that prove to be more interesting than the originally released material; the bonus material is interesting because it diverges from dated Sixties harmonies far more than what was included on the original album and features a bit less of the vocal choir.