Marquis Hill: New Gospel (2011)
There's a new generation of jazz musicians brewing on the Chicago jazz scene, and with New Gospel, Marquis Hill has solidified himself as one of its leading trumpet players. Joined by several other young Chicago jazz musicians, Hill makes a bold move by filling his entire first release with his own compositions.
Hill's notable orchestrating skills are reminiscent of Booker Little with a modern edge, like that of Roy Hargrove. Even if it's something just as simple as a displacement of the beat on "Autumn," or voicing the saxophone above the trumpet on "The Believer," he finds that balance between demonstrating his ability to write interesting material while still allowing his musicians enough room to be creative. He also manages to reference the past without sounding dated or restricted in any way. A great example of this is "The Thump" which begins with a saxophone-trumpet duet, similar to something that Igor Stravinsky would write for winds, that moments later breaks into an R&B groove. Though much like Miles Davis has done in the past, Hill's choice to snap a tempo for a new section on "The Believer" breaks up the album's flow a bit and disturbs the atmosphere created.
The performances on this release should not be overlooked. At several points, Hill and altoist Christopher McBride share some great dialogue when handing off solos, especially going from saxophone to trumpet on "The Believer" and vice versa on "The Thump." Bassist John Tate is an absolute rock on this album, often times being the only rhythm section member playing during an intro or transition, and on a track that doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the album, he is the only performer on a selection called "Bass Solo." Hill highlights Tate's playing again in a trumpet and bass duet on the closing "Goodbye Fred," a tribute to the late Chicago saxophonist Fred Anderson.
With a very raw, organic sound, New Gospel has helped distinguish Hill in a Chicago jazz market that is becoming increasingly populated with new talent. This release is not only a product Chicago can be proud of but also a standard which those other young jazz musicians on the scene can look up to.
Track Listing: Law and Order; The Believer; New Gospel; Autumn; A Portrait of Fola; The Thump; Bass Solo; Goodbye Fred.
Personnel: Marquis Hill: trumpet; Christopher McBride: alto saxophone (2, 3, 5, 6); Chris Madsen: tenor saxophone (1, 4); Kenneth Oshodi: guitar (1, 3, 4); Joshua Moshier: piano; John Tate: bass; Jeremy Cunningham: drums.
Record Label: Self Produced