Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Marquis Hill: The Way We Play

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
"A comprehensive vision": Marquis Hill

Marquis Hill, not yet 30 and based in both his hometown of Chicago and in New York, is one of the most promising jazz musicians to gain a national reputation in recent memory. He’s a remarkably gifted trumpeter, with a technical command that can evoke heroes like Donald Byrd and Freddie Hubbard without getting too close to the source, and a composer-bandleader whose music and working group, the Blacktet, boast a comprehensive vision. Hill received first place at the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition, and this Concord Jazz debut is the result of a generous prize package. And although it follows a few fine if modestly distributed recordings, it comes off like a definitive introduction.

Hill’s previous albums featured original music, but this one is filled with standards and not-so-standards-an old strategy for a hotshot player making a big entrance, and one that Hill revises by using his Blacktet instead of a prestige rhythm section. Of course, nothing better betrays the true nature of musicianship than a standard tune.

With alto saxophonist Christopher McBride, vibraphonist Justin Thomas, bassist Joshua Ramos and drummer Makaya McCraven, a rising progressive-jazz star in his own right, Hill melds live laptop-sounding rhythms with taut, contemporary postbop fire on Gigi Gryce’s “Minority” and Horace Silver’s “Moon Rays.” “Maiden Voyage” is turned into atmosphere, and “Straight, No Chaser” sidesteps the beat-making influence for hard-core swing. A closing take on Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile,” featuring only Hill, Ramos and guest percussionist Juan Pastor on cajón, is delightfully candid, like eavesdropping on a festival greenroom.

Purchase this issue from Barnes & Noble or Apple Newsstand. Print and digital subscriptions are also available.

Originally Published