Although jazz trumpeter Marquis Hill currently lives in New York City, he retains his Chicago roots. Hill was born and raised on Chicago's south side and regularly returns to his home city to visit and perform. He played two sets at Jazz Showcase in Printer's Row on Friday evening. I caught his first set. The venue was as crowded as I have ever seen it.
Hill kicked off the show, chiming bells, a tambourine, and other small percussion instruments perched on a stool by his side. He returned to this stool, despite gravity toppling many of these instruments to the floor, where the pianist had to retrieve and replace them. In addition to the chimes of bells, he interspersed his playing with looped recorded samples of an unidentified musician describing the inspiration behind his music.
Hill's trumpet playing was flawless and emotional, but he was supported by three musicians (bass, drums, and piano), which he sometimes refers to as his "Blackett." The pianist stood out with his outstanding solo work.
The set was short - barely an hour - but he packed a lot into it, ranging from upbeat funk to slow ballads. It was enough.