Jazzman Andrew Hill, a groundbreaking pianist and composer known for his complex post-bop style, died early Friday, his record label announced. He was 75.
Hill, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago, died at his Jersey City, N.J., home, according to Cem Kurosman of Blue Note Records. He had released his final album, "Time Lines," in early 2006, a farewell that earned him album of the year honors from Down Beat magazine.
He was still performing just three weeks ago, when Hill appeared with his trio at a Manhattan church.
Hill was widely lauded within the jazz community; Blue Note founder Alfred Lion once described him as "the next Thelonious Monk." But he was often overlooked by mainstream audiences which focused on contemporaries like Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. Hill had performed with both while a young man.
"In a jazz world that often celebrates imitators, Hill stands as a genuine original," said the announcement accompanying his 2003 International Jazzpar Prize, given by a Danish organization to recognize an active jazz performer.
Hill came to New York in 1961 to work with singer Dinah Washington. In 1963, he began a long association with Blue Note, where he released a series of post-bop albums that included the 1964 "Point of Departure," which the New York Times hailed in 2000 as his greatest album.
But Hill spent most of the ’70s and ’80s teaching, releasing only occasional albums. After nearly a decade away from recording, Hill resurfaced in recent years with three new albums: "Dusk’" with his Point of Departure Sextet in 2000; "A Beautiful Day" in 2002; and "Time Lines" last year.
In addition, his "Passing Ships" was released in 2004, 35 years after it was recorded. It had been shelved in 1969 because Blue Note considered it noncommercial.
Born in Chicago in 1931, Hill said he "could play the piano as long as I’ve been talking." His professional career began in 1952, and he worked with Parker, Davis and tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins before releasing his debut album three years later.