Album of the Day: Marquis Hill, “Love Tape”

Marquis Hill, born in 1987, is one of the younger trumpeters in the current jazz scene—company that includes Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Theo Croker, and Keyon Harrold. All of them are in their 30s, which means they’ve never known a world without hip-hop, house music, or contemporary R&B. All of those genres mix freely in their music, percolating alongside jazz; the same is true of Hill’s latest release, Love Tape.

Love Tape showcases Hill’s tight backing band—Mike King on piano, Fender Rhodes, and keyboards; Junius Paul on electric bass; and Marcus Gilmore on drums—with alto saxophonist Josh Johnson and vocalist Christie Dashiell making guest appearances. Hill himself sticks to the lush, romantic flugelhorn throughout. Tracks like “Won’t You Celebrate With Me?” and “To You I Promise” are built and mixed like modern, radio-friendly love songs. The keyboards shimmer and the drums rap gently like knuckles on a bedroom door; Hill’s horn lines are more focused on soft melodic murmuring than fireworks.

Perhaps most important of all, though, are the voices heard on “Beautiful Us” and “A New Life”: women speaking directly about the nature of love, whether it’s what they’re seeking in a partner, or the value of self-realization and self-love. (There’s also an introductory track featuring the voice of the late trumpeter Roy Hargrove, a major influence on the new generation, talking about playing music as an act of service to others.) This is a fluid exploration of love in all its aspects, from personal relationships to community—all executed deftly, and with immense care.

-Phil Freeman

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