Turner Sims Marketing and Programme Intern Nadia Daniel talks to jazz artist Marquis Hill ahead of his gig here on International Jazz Day on Tuesday 30 April.
NADIA DANIEL: How did you come up with your band name?
MARQUIS HILL: After a conversation with a colleague, I felt inspired to name my group the “Blacktet”; this was at the ensemble’s inception. I was searching for a uniquely meaningful name that Resonated – had enduring Impact. The goal of my ensemble is to add to the continuum of Black American Music, honouring and preserving the masters’ profound legacy by soundly extending it.
ND: What was it like growing up as an up-and-coming trumpet-playing star in Chicago, the music capital of the world?
MH: Even if I wouldn’t say the Chi is the music capital of the world, it certainly is a musical homeland – it’s historically crucial to the essential lineage of this great music. Growing up in Chicago was absolutely beautiful for me. While yet pretty young, the scene took me in with open arms; I was blessed to have mentors like Fred Anderson, Von Freeman, Diane Ellis, and Bobby Broom. They and others generously guided me, educating me along the way regarding the music’s true meaning — the real power of this art-form.
ND: When producing your new album, Modern Flows Vol. 2, was there a particular, memorable element of the process you enjoyed?
MH: With this album specifically, I approached composing somewhat differently. I programmed all the sounds electronically and recorded Demo’s into software before actually notating it on paper. Whereas in the past, I would write all parts at the piano and notate them in real time, I was partly allowing a kind of digitally-aided intuition to lead the way. (This pertained, partly, to my sense of a deep continuity among Black musics – close-knit connections I’d actively glimpse among so-called genres, dimensions of Black music ‘from bop to hip hop.’)
ND: What element of your life to date, do you believe has had the greatest impact upon your music?
MH: My upbringing has had the biggest impact on my music and approach to, say, ensemble-centric composer-performing. I was fortunate enough to be raised in a household that constantly exposed me to great Black American Music. And, again – at an early age – I was truly blessed with and by mentors who cared enough to authentically teach me the authentic ‘aural’ tradition. Each in her/his own way really lived-out something of this real goodness and truth, that ‘shines for all’ in the music’s Best.
ND: In what ways is Modern Flows Vol. 2 different or similar to Modern Flows Vol. 1, and what can the audience expect from your new album?
MH: Modern Flows Vol. 1 is similar to Vol 2 in regards to the overall goal of both projects. I wanted to blur the line of genre differences – between Jazz, Hip-hop and all other forms of Black American Music. My sense is that this project suggest a distinct melting pot, of all the great music from the Black American Diaspora.
ND: What do you believe is the best track you have ever released and why?
MH: If with no ego, there really is a special place in my heart for all of the music that I have been blessed to release thus far. And I’m currently working on a project that is as dear to me; I’m grateful that it will have some rich surprises and should be released this fall! Be on the lookout!
ND: If you could have your fans remember one thing about you, what would it be?
MH: I would want my fans to remember that I dedicated my music and career to spreading love and light, as genuinely as possible – to people all over the world. Let me say it plain as I can: “Spread peace and love through music!”
ND: Tomorrow, you step outside of your house, office or studio and find a lottery ticket worth $10million. What would you do with the money?
MH: I would invest it back into my community!