Jazz can be intimidating to the uninitiated. It can feel like something you ought to study rather than enjoy. Enter Marquis Hill to turn those misconceptions on their heads. He’s barely 30; he grew up on the south side of Chicago (not an area known for musical opportunities), but Hill is what most artists struggle so dearly to be, genuine and talented. This is what makes him a New Original. It’s no more intimidating to talk to Marquis about jazz than it is to talk to a toddler about his favorite color. His love for his art is pure and his approach to music making is completely down to earth.
In an age where most seek originality for originality’s sake, Marquis understands it can only organically come from love, peace, and being in the moment. When asked what he thinks about when he plays, the answer is “…I try by best not to think and simply be in the moment.” Pretty hard to believe looking at his resume – Thelonious Trumpet Competition winner, Ravinia Jazz Scholar, MA in Jazz Pedagogy, and on and on. The amazing thing about listening to Hill’s music though, especially his latest album, “The Way We Play,” is it has the ability to transfer that Zen spirit to the listener. You immediately feel more in the moment, more in touch with that art form that is both so rooted in America and yet so elusive to many music lovers – Jazz. Marquis’ music incorporates elements of hip-hop, R&B, and spoken word, illustrating how dynamic music is, how fluid genres are, and how important diverse inspiration is to creating something new.
If I wasn’t a professional musician, I would still want to have some type of career in the arts. I feel that in this country and especially in the black and brown communities, the arts are seriously being neglected. The arts are what make us human. The arts mold children into being well rounded individuals.
Even if you’re never going to pick up a trumpet or flugelhorn, there’s so much we can all learn from Marquis and his philosophy on the arts. While originality is critical to the soul of an artist, he also recognizes that art relies on education and community – “What is learned should be passed down to keep the tradition alive. If I wasn’t a professional musician, I would still want to have some type of career in the arts. I feel that in this country and especially in the black and brown communities, the arts are seriously being neglected. The arts are what make us human. The arts mold children into well-rounded individuals.”
It’s truly inspiring to watch the evolution of this soulful artist. Visit marquishill.com to learn more and find a performance near you.