Chicago trumpeter Marquis Hill is a rising jazz star, combining cerebral, elegantly realized post-bop with piquant elements of hip-hop and 21st-century R&B and soul. Hill won the prestigious 2014 Thelonious Monk International Trumpet Competition. His prizes included a contract with Concord Records, which just released The Way We Play
. Which is extremely well, the "we" being Hill's well-seasoned Blacktet. Hill is an accomplished player who balances muscularity and finesse while launching lithe, imaginative improvs and incorporating a certain broad, Chi-town swagger. He's even drawn comparisons to Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, and Donald Byrd. Prior Hill albums focused on originals, but TWWP
is jazz standards ranging from Monk to Horace Silver to "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," albeit with smart, bristly new arrangements. The hip-hop and other mod twists surface mainly in insistent grooves: a busy freneticism juxtaposing the graceful melody on "Moon Rays," the percolating rhythms and clipped phrasing on "Fly Little Bird Fly," the twitchy, Latinized pace on Charlie Chaplin's "Smile."