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JAZZ: Young trumpeter Marquis Hill has another growth spurt
Marquis Hill says he didn't hear a lot of music in his childhood home in Chatham, but when he started fifth grade at Dixon Elementary School, he picked up the trumpet. Before long it became an obsession, and by high school he knew he wanted a career in music. Judging by his second album as a bandleader, Sounds of the City, his heart was in the right place—at 25, he's one of the most talented and exciting young jazz artists in Chicago.
In 2009 Hill graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in music education, and this summer he finished a master's in jazz studies and pedagogy from DePaul; he credits his music teacher at Dixon, Diane Ellis, for instilling in him an interest in education. Hill makes most of his money giving private lessons and teaching at Brookfield High School and NIU's annual summer jazz camp, but his flexibility has also helped make him an increasingly ubiquitous presence on the Chicago jazz scene.
Hill started putting down roots in that scene while in high school, thanks to the Sunday jam sessions at Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge—he eventually ended up in the final incarnation of the house band. The Velvet was where he met some of the players he works with today, among them saxophonist Ernest Dawkins, who'd invite Hill into his long-running New Horizons Ensemble—the trumpeter appears on last year's The Prairie Prophet (Delmark).
Hill excels in avant-garde settings, but his own quintet—tenor saxophonist Christopher McBride, pianist Joshua Mosier, bassist Charlie Kirchen, and drummer Jeremy Cunningham—tackles relatively mainstream hard bop with just as much style and power. Due Thu 8/23, Sounds of the City is more mature, forceful, and substantial than Hill's debut, last year's self-released New Gospel. It's packed with nearly an hour of original compositions, plus a cover of Benny Golson's "Stablemates"—and as on his debut, Hill demonstrates impressive humility, yielding the opening solo on the first track, "Abracadabra," to McBride. The quintet plays the Jazz Showcase on Wed 8/1.
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