Marquis Hill – New Gospel Revisited
(Edition EDN1190 . Album review by Jon Turney)
The much talked about US trumpeter Marquis Hill has an unusual offering for his first release on the UK’s Edition label, a live session that re-examines compositions from his debut recording a decade ago.
The music comes from a date in Hill’s native Chicago where he expanded his band to a sextet and showcases a formidable array of players getting to grips with the challenge of making hard bop fresh for the 21st century. That they succeed is a tribute to the skills of all six, including Walter Smith III on tenor sax, Harish Raghavan on bass, and the marvellously fluid drummer Kendrick Scott. The group is completed by two more real stars, frequent Hill collaborator Joel Ross on vibes and the sought after James Francies on piano.
The band play through the tunes from the original New Gospel, which stand up well, with solo interludes for each player. Hill slips back comfortably into the style he first loved, his tone centred, his sound free of slurs – more Art Farmer than Lester Bowie. The others contribute with equal conviction. The up-tempo numbers are full of spirited interplay, the slower pieces, such as the mournful Autumn, extend the emotional range in the most satisfying way
Ross in particular is a fountain of invention, and his exchanges with Francies are album high spots. He’s in the band Marquis is currently touring with in Europe (in London on March 27th), an enticing prospect.
This release is a sidestep from other more recent recordings, which have reflected more clearly the conviction Hill shares with most bright young players – that all American musics from gospel to hip-hop share common roots. A superficial listen might leave one feeling it is a slightly generic take on the mainstream jazz sound of the last half-century. But listen again and it reveals an intensity, flair and attention to detail that are rare any time. It’s a jazz club set anyone who revels in great music, delivered with panache, would be pleased to hear.