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*Andrew Hill was born on this date in 1931. He was a Black jazz pianist, educator, and composer.
Andrew Hill was born to William and Hattie Hill in Chicago, Illinois. He had a brother, Robert, a singer and classical violin player. Hill took up the piano at thirteen and was encouraged by Earl Hines. As a child, he attended the University of Chicago Experimental School.
While a teenager, he performed in rhythm and blues bands and with touring jazz musicians, including Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. Hill had a little act and made several talent shows around town from 1943 until 1947. He won turkeys at two Thanksgiving parties at the Regal Theatre," parties sponsored by the newspaper Chicago Defender, which Hill coincidentally used to sell on the streets. In 1950, Hill learned his first blues changes on the piano, and in 1953, he played his first professional job as a musician.
During the next few years, the piano gigs brought him into contact with many musicians. In 1961, after traveling as an accompanist for Dinah Washington, he settled in New York City 1961, where he worked for Johnny Hartman and Al Hibbler, then briefly moved to Los Angeles County, where he worked with Roland Kirk's quartet and at the Lighthouse Café. While working at the Lighthouse Café in Hermosa Beach, he met his future wife, Laverne Gillette, an organist at the Red Carpet. They married in 1963 and moved to New York.
His Blue Note recordings made his reputation as a leader from 1963 to 1970, which featured several other influential post-bop musicians, including Joe Chambers, Richard Davis, Eric Dolphy, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Elvin Jones, Woody Shaw, Tony Williams, and John Gilmore. Hill also played on albums by Henderson, Hutcherson, and Hank Mobley. His compositions accounted for three of the five pieces on Bobby Hutcherson's Dialogue album. His wife, Laverne, died following an extended illness in California, where the couple had settled, in 1989.
He later taught in California and held a tenure-track faculty appointment at Portland State University from 1989 to 1996. While at PSU, he established a Summer Jazz Intensive program, performing, conducting workshops, and attending residencies at Wesleyan University, the University of Michigan, the University of Toronto, Harvard University, Bennington College, and other schools. He married dancer/educator Joanne Robinson Hill in Portland in 1992. They moved to New York City in 1995. From 2000, Hill and his wife lived in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Hill's main influences were pianists Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, and Art Tatum. His final public performance was on March 29, 2007, at Trinity Church in New York City. Andrew Hill suffered from lung cancer during the last years of his life. He died at his home in Jersey City, New Jersey, on April 20, 2007. In May 2007, he became the first person to receive a posthumous honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music.