Yokada Yokada (Alternative Take)
It’s hard to believe, but when Andrew Hill began his run on Blue Note in the mid-’60s, he recorded a classic album every month: first Black Fire in November 1963, then Smokestack in December, and then in January 1964 this quartet gem, Judgement!, with vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, bassist Richard Davis, and drummer Elvin Jones. Two months later, he made the widely hailed masterpiece Point of Departure.
Davis played bass on all of these outings. On the one hand, he could anchor steady but off-kilter patterns like “Siete Ocho”; on the other, he could step well outside convention on a ballad like “Alfred” (dedicated to Blue Note cofounder and producer Alfred Lion), functioning more like a cello and practically soloing throughout. He’s as unpredictable as Hill’s music itself. About a month later, Davis and Hutcherson reunited and took part in Eric Dolphy’s ‘Out to Lunch!’.
The chime-like blend of Hutcherson’s vibes and Hill’s piano is what defines Judgment! sonically. It’s the only session of Hill’s with this particular instrumentation, and the absence of horn gives it an open and transparent color. (The following year, Hill played on Hutcherson’s Blue Note classic Dialogue.) Jones, too, with his hurtling swing feel but also his mastery of dynamic shading and contrast (so key to his work with John Coltrane), brings an irresistible energy to Hill’s music, with a drum solo on nearly every tune. Together, the group deals with swing in many permutations—on the midtempo blues-with-a-screw-loose “Yokada Yokada” or more abstractly on “Flea Flop,” “Reconciliation,” and the title track. It’s a sound that would prove influential for Hill’s pianistic heirs, such as Jason Moran and Vijay Iyer.