…Hill has perfected the breadth of contemporary music making to add to his knowledge and skills in traditional jazz.

Edition: EDN1215

Marquis Hill: Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Effects, Vocals; Michael King: Piano, Rhodes, Organ, Synths; Junius Paul: Bass, Toys, Effects; Indie Buz: Drums, Toys, Percussion; Ariesfoolmoon, Doelow Da Pilotman: Spoken Word; Braxton Cook: Alto sax, Vocals; Joel Ross: Vibraphone; Thomas G. Allen: Vocals

Recorded Fall 2022 by Carlos Truly and Steve Marek in Chicago, New York and LA

On this outing, Hill and his fellow musicians create an immersive, atmospheric Nu Jazz environment to explore the ways in which ‘mindfulness’ (through the practice of daily rituals and routines) can allow us to better connect with our world, our god and the people we love.

The spoken word on track 6, ‘Peace’, sets out the manifesto of this approach as a Brahman concept. The rituals and routines can are described with single word titles like Rise, Breathe, Stretch, Cleanse, Smoke, which are elaborated in the subtitles in parenthesis (e.g., ‘all possibilities’, ‘give thanks and gratitude’).

Each piece lasts a few minutes, with contemporary broken beats rhythms, spoken words sampled or spoken by the guest artists, and shimmering electronic textures. Across these soundscapes, Paul’s looping bassline hypnotizes, and Hill and guest saxophonist Cook introduce short, simple phrases.

In places, there are longer solos, such as Ross’ compelling vibraphone playing over frenetic drum patterns on track 3 ‘Stretch (the body)’ or Cook’s astral saxophone solo on track 5 ‘Cleanse (The Waters)’. I would have liked each of the pieces to stretch a little more to allow other solos to step forward, and to hear more of Hill’s own elegant trumpet and flugelhorn playing.

But each piece has, I guess, been crafted to make its point and allow the listener to move to the next step in the guidance.

As a follow up to Hill’s ‘New Gospel Revisited’, this is quite different in sound, style and messaging.

But as a document in Hill’s musical and spiritual development, this is absolutely compelling and with the mixture of vocals, beats, spoken word and layers of electronica on ‘Peace (be still)’ demonstrates the way that Hill has perfected the breadth of contemporary music making to add to his knowledge and skills in traditional jazz.

I very much hope that this is a transition towards music that merges these traditions in a way that only Hill will be able to do.