Trumpeter Marquis Hill left his native Chicago for New York two years ago, right around the time he won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. Countless local musicians have made that move over the decades, relocating their bases of operations to the center of the jazz business, where there’s more competition but greater potential for success. Hill has maintained such a strong presence in Chicago since then, however, that you could be forgiven for not even noticing that he’d left. He’s performing Friday night at Symphony Center, opening for singer Gregory Porter.
On June 24 Concord Records will put out his latest album, The Way We Play—the prize for taking top honors at the Monk Competition includes a release on the label. Some previous winners, such as saxophonist Jon Irabagon, have taken advantage of this opportunity to record with a high-profile band of veterans—he enlisted brilliant pianist Kenny Barron to play on his 2009 album The Observer. But Hill decided to stick with his longtime working band, the Blacktet, some of whose members still live in Chicago, including bassist Joshua Ramos and drummer Makaya McCraven (alto saxophonist Christopher McBride moved to New York about a year before Hill, and vibist Justin Thomas moved to LA last year). The new album cover features an aerial image of downtown with the four stars of the city’s flag emblazoned across the top. Most of the tunes are jazz standards, but the arrangements and attack follow the flavor of Hill’s previous album, covering a broad terrain and adding bits of R&B and hip-hop.
We’re delighted to present the world premiere of a song from the album as today’s 12 O’Clock Track—the group’s take on an obscure tune by trumpeter Carmell Jones called “Beep Durple.” The Blacktet will be back in town later in the month, playing album-release shows at the Green Mill on June 24 and 25, plus a gig Monday night, June 27, at the California Clipper and an early-evening set as part of the MCA’s Tuesdays on the Terrace series on June 28. The group will also hit the south side for a concert at Room 43 on July 3.
Igor Levit, Bach/Beethoven/Rzewski (Sony Classical)
Thee Oh Sees, Mutilator Defeated at Last (Castle Face)
Saskia Lankhoorn, Kate Moore: Dances and Canons (ECM)
Kevin Drumm & Jason Lescalleet, Busman’s Holiday (Erstwhile)
Wilco, Star Wars (dBpm/Anti-)