June 30, 1931-April 20, 2007
Andrew Hill was born to Hattie and William Robert Hill, Sr. on June 30, 1931 in Chicago, Illinois. He was preceded in death by his parents and his only sibling William Robert Hill, Jr. Andrew was in person as magical and complex as the music he composed and performed. He was at once shy and outgoing, with a slight build, sometimes hesitant speech, and with a ready smile and penetrating gaze that could embrace the whole of a person. Andrew brought an easy elegance and grace to all that he did with an ability to laugh at life's situations. "No tears," he said in responding to his three year life with illness, lived with passion and hope.
A legendary jazz pianist and composer, his music defied categorization for over four decades with its enigmatic and sophisticated musical style. He was hailed by The New York Times as "one of the 1960's jazz heroes" and was alternately referred to as a genius and a master by critics and colleagues alike. He was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jazz Foundation of America (1997), received the JAZZPAR Award, the world's largest international jazz award (2003), and was named Jazz Composer of the Year five times by the Jazz Journalists Association, receiving the Pianist of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. A champion of Hill's music, the late Blue Note Records founder Alfred Lion proclaimed Hill his "last great protege. With over 40 recordings over just as many years, Hill consistently astounded listeners with his unorthodox compositions.
His nonet, Passing Ships, written in 1969 for mixed winds, brass, and a rhythm section, enjoyed much attention and acclaim when it was rediscovered, released, and performed live for the first time in 2006. His last release, Time Lines (Blue Note 2006), was voted Best Jazz Album by Down Beat magazine. He was named to down Beat's Hall of Fame in 2007 and joined the ranks of such lauded composers as Stravinsky, Copland, Elliott Carter, as well as jazz luminaries David Benoit and Chick Corea by signing with music publisher Boosey & Hawkes. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee School of Music on May 12, 2007. His final concert was at Trinity Church, Wall Street on March 29th, 2007. Andrew was named a 2008 NEA Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, the country's highest award for jazz.