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Jazz - Released October 11, 2019 | Black Unlimited Music Group

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Trumpeter, composer, and bandleader Marquis Hill's music has continually sought the sweet spot between contemporary and straight-ahead jazz, hip-hop, adult contemporary, R&B, Chicago-style house, neo-soul, and funk. While it's true that his previous seven albums have operated with a similar M.O., his two Modern Flows volumes and The Way We Play (a set of thoroughly revamped jazz standards) put this across best. With Love Tape, Hill takes on music's -- and perhaps all the arts' -- most dominant theme: Love. But there are a couple of twists. First, he's after the most fundamental kind of love there is, self-love as a gateway to other kinds. Secondly, his approach to the topic is proffered by a series of interviews with African American women. He assembled a quartet of frequent collaborators for assistance: pianist and keyboardist Mike King, bassist Junius Paul, and drummer Marcus Gilmore. Old friend Makaya McCraven lent a hand with production assistance. Love Tape is relatively brief at a mere half-hour. It's constructed in a suite-like manner; its nine pieces flow into one another. Musically, the primary focus is contemporary jazz. The whole is a dreamy, laid-back contemplation of the subject matter, guided by the voices. They show up to introduce segments, comment on them in midstream, or carry them out. After an intro, the proper set-opener, "Beautiful Us," drifts in with hip-hop drums, a muted, multi-tracked bluesy trumpet melody, a sampled (male) vocal chorus, a wobbly bassline, and synth strings, before a woman with a Caribbean patois offers her own take on the strong sense of self-worth necessary for equanimous romantic relationships. Hill's lyrical playing leads each of these profoundly simple and languid tunes. The backing tracks are lush and in the pocket, with shuffling rhythm tracks grounding the breeziness of the horns and keys on "Won't You Celebrate with Me," and the shimmering ambience in "Unconditional Interlude." The lyric line in "To You I Promise" is provided by staggered, multi-tracked trumpet lines creating multi-phonic harmonies; they're accompanied by dreamy synths, snare, and hi-hat atop a bubbling funk-lite bassline. Alto saxophonist Josh Johnson assists on "A New Life," a meld of lush neo-bop and crossover jazz. Guest vocalist Christie Dashiell sings the mellow, chill-inflected neo-soul of "Wednesday Love," her smoky alto caressed by Hill's horn and Paul's rumbling yet seductive bassline. While Love Tape is not a landmark recording from the trumpeter, it is thoroughly enjoyable. The project succeeds because Hill's composed music amply suits the sampled narration underscoring the topic, as each track offers a slightly different emphasis. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released November 9, 2018 | Black Unlimited Music Group

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Jazz - Released October 9, 2019 | Black Unlimited Music Group

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Jazz - Released September 27, 2019 | Black Unlimited Music Group

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