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ICON Suggests: Marquis Hill, THE POET

Blowing in from Chicago is the hot recording from trumpeter Marquis Hill, a rising regional star in Chicago whose third release, The Poet, is a skillfully played modern jazz record that’s steeped in retro styling.

His band, the Blacktet, knows their business, easily facilitating the post-bop changes and soul-jazz grooves that characterize Hill’s marvelous original compositions. Reminiscent in style to Roy Hargrove at the start of his career, Hill dives into sturdy rhythmic waters, swinging with confidence and chops, leading his sextet through a dozen tunes that have a pleasing rawness despite the rich, cozy sound that gives all the instruments, especially the bass, an analog warmth.


The fleet tempo on “B-Tune,” anchored by a subtle Latin clave rhythm, flaunts a swaggering frontline with Hill and alto saxophonist Christopher McBride weaving their sound into pleasing textures. Another highlight, “The Color Of Fear,” flows with an emphatic bassline, along with taut, punchy solos from Hill and McBride.

...THE POET is a skillfully played modern jazz record that's steeped in retro styling.

Vibraphonist Justin Thomas is a revelation in the sonic mix, rolling his notes in a rich, buttery tone. In addition to Thomas, Hill assembles an equally top-notch group of collaborators and a particularly astute rhythm section—bassist Joshua Ramos, drummer Makaya McCraven and subtle pianist, Josh Moshier.

Solidly well-crafted, the album is bookended by Kevin Sparks’ cogent poetry set against Hill’s jazz/hip-hop bounce track, the drums and bass locked in counterpoint that fuels an undulating beat. (15 tracks; 45 minutes)

This article is from the November 2013 edition of ICON Magazine, the only publication in the Greater Delaware Valley and beyond solely devoted to coverage of music, fine and performing arts, pop culture, and entertainment. More Information.