Hear the first fiery salvo from Marquis Hill's forthcoming live album, 'New Gospel Revisited'
For a sizable portion of the global jazz public, Marquis Hill hit the radar in 2014, when he took first prize in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition. It was a couple of months later that I first reviewed him in concert for the New York Times — and not much longer before Hill was the subject of a profile by Jazz Night in America.
But Chicago knew him first. Hill, who grew up on the South Side, came up through that city's jazz infrastructure, availing himself of resources both institutional and informal. His first album, New Gospel, was released in 2011, three years before that impressive competition showing. A surefooted effort that updated some Young Lion-ish conventions for the millennial cohort, it marked Hill as a bandleader and composer to watch.
Now, a decade into his broadminded solo career, Hill has decided to revisit that touchstone — bringing a new set of peers and proficiencies. New Gospel Revisited will be his album for Edition Records, due out on March 11, 2022. The first track from the album, "Law & Order," has its premiere here at WBGO.
Recorded in Dec. 2019 at Constellation, the enduringly essential Chicago club, New Gospel Revisited finds Hill at the helm of an all-star sextet — players familiar on the scene in New York, though none of them grew up there. Joining Hill in the front line is tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III — who, like keyboardist James Francies and drummer Kendrick Scott, hails from Houston. Rounding out the band are two of Hill's fellow Chicago natives, vibraphonist Joel Ross and bassist Harish Raghavan.
On "Law & Order," which opened the first iteration of New Gospel, listen for how Raghavan and Scott maintain a tumbling rhythmic undertow, over which the horns and chordal instruments can glide at will. The trumpet solo, starting just over a minute in, is true to Hill's style: a warm, glowing sound paired with all manner of deft maneuvers.
"New Gospel was my debut album and my first completed production," Hill explains in an artist statement. "To revisit this music in a fresh way, with a new band has been uniquely invigorating — and hugely rewarding."
New Gospel Revisited will be released on March 11 by Edition Records.