Jazz educator wins international Monk competition

Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition 2014

Marquis Hill, center, performs after winning first place at the Thelonius Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition Nov. 9.


Marquis Hill, trumpeter and teaching associate in the jazz program, won the Thelonius Monk Jazz Competition at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre Sunday, considered by many jazz experts as the highest honor for a young jazz musician.

Hill will receive a $25,000 scholarship and a recording contract with Concord Music Group.

He competed against 12 other world-caliber trumpeters in the semifinals and finals, sponsored by the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz. The jury included Quincy Jones, Randy Brecker, Arturo Sandoval and other jazz luminaries.

Hill’s selections were the standards “If I Were A Bell” and “Polka Dots and Moonbeams.”

The event included an award presentation to saxophonist and former president Bill Clinton for his contributions to jazz education, as well as featured performances by Pharrell Williams with Herbie Hancock, Dianne Reeves with Wayne Shorter, and Taj Mahal with John Mayer and Marcus Miller.

This is Hill’s third international win. In 2012, he won the International Trumpet Guild’s Jazz Improvisation Competition. The following year, he won the 2013 Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition.

“I’m delighted that Marquis has won an honor that will bring him further international recognition,” said Andy Baker, director of jazz studies. “Marquis is as gifted an educator as he is a performer. We look forward to his return next fall after his teaching and performing in New York.”

Hill has been playing trumpet since grade school, performing with the South Shore Youth Ensemble and the Ravinia Jazz Scholars, which led him to meet role models like pianist Willie Pickens and guitarist Bobby Broom.

He has recorded four CDs and  performed on albums by the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, saxophonist Ernest Dawkins and pianist Willerm Delisfort. He plays with these musicians at the Green Mill and other Chicago venues.

Before teaching at UIC, Hill earned a B.A. in music education from Northern Illinois University and a master’s degree in jazz pedagogy from DePaul University.

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