Internationally Acclaimed Trumpeter & Merit School of Music Alum, Marquis Hill Headlines 2nd Annual ‘play on’ Concert Benefiting Music Education At City Winery Chicago

marquis hill merit music school

Chicago’s Merit School of Music proudly presents its 2nd Annual ‘Play On’ concert benefiting music education, to be headlined by Merit alum, internationally renowned musician, composer and bandleader, Marquis Hill, at City Winery Chicago, 1200 W. Randolph Street, Monday, March 2, at 7pm. Joining Hill will be fellow Merit alumni who both return to the ‘Play On’ bill following their crowd-pleasing performances in 2019: Detroit-based jazz pianist Alexis Lombre and Chicago singer/songwriter Christine Whack as emcee. Opening the concert will be the current Merit Honors Jazz Combo, Merit’s highest-level Conservatory jazz ensemble. ‘Play On’ is presented by @properties.

Recently cited by The New York Times as releasing one of the nation’s Top Jazz Albums of 2019, Hill breaks down the barriers that divide musical genres, effortlessly fusing contemporary and classic jazz, hip hop, R&B, Chicago house, and neo-soul. This thrilling artist, born and raised on Chicago’s culturally rich South Side, became a presence on the global scene virtually overnight after winning the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Trumpet Competition in 2014. Hill attended Merit from 2002-05, studying under the late Michael McLaughlin, who also trained fellow Merit alumni and renowned trumpeters Nico Segal and Will Miller.

Said Hill: “My Merit experience was absolutely amazing. Merit helped me prepare mentally and musically for college and the real world. I am honored to ‘pay it forward’ at this concert by helping raise funds to provide access to the quality music education I was fortunate to receive. Though I travel the world, Chicago will always be my home and Merit my foundation.”

Artist Bios
One of the finest trumpeters in jazz today, Marquis Hill is also a composer and bandleader whose comprehensive vision highlights the unity and continuity within the musical heritage of African Americans. On acclaimed albums like his latest, Modern Flows Vol. II, and his 2016 breakout project, The Way We Play, Hill and his working band, the Blacktet, use their next-level musicianship and deeply interactive dynamic to break down the barriers separating bop, hip hop, R&B and electronic music.

Born in Chicago in 1987 and raised on the city’s South Side, Hill absorbed the jazz tradition both formally—he holds a bachelor’s degree in music education as well as a master’s in jazz pedagogy—and informally, gaining knowledge from his elders on gigs and at jam sessions. By the time he won the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Trumpet Competition in the Fall of 2014, his reputation for fluid virtuosity was firmly established in the Midwest—as a member of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, an in-demand sideman and a leader with several buzz worthy self-released discs to his credit. Since that watershed victory, Hill has garnered glowing coverage in national outlets including the New Yorker, the New York Times, JazzTimes, NPR Music and DownBeat, where he topped the “Rising Star–Trumpet” category in the 2016 Critics Poll. As he’s maintained a nonstop touring schedule with the Blacktet, he’s also supported and guested with a jazz ‘Who’s Who’ that includes Marcus Miller, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Boney James, Kurt Elling, Joe Lovano and Hill’s trailblazing Chicago peer Makaya McCraven.

Alexis Lombre is a young artist who discovered early that the true essence of music is not just about what you hear but how music makes you feel. Her musical mission is to keep the ‘Soul’ in music alive. The 2017 release of her debut album, Southside Sounds, does just that as it is a soulful reflection of her upbringing on Chicago’s Southside that pays homage to its lively artistic cultural heritage.  Lombre attended Merit School of Music from 2009-2014.

Christine Whack is a Chicago-based singer-songwriter who attended the Merit School of Music from 1996-2003. With her progressive blend of pop, neo-soul, alternative and classical, Whack’s music has taken her to teach and perform abroad in Europe, accompany orchestras in New York, and promote peace and unity in her home city of Chicago. Having an affinity for the unique and uncommon, Whack is a creative force who has chosen to use her musical voice to bring about positive change.

Merit Honors Jazz Combo is the most advanced combo in Merit’s illustrious Conservatory Jazz Program. Coached by jazz pianist Steve Million, the combo’s current roster includes Philip Pistone (trumpet), Rahsaan Nance (guitar), Aleko Lionikis (piano), Leo Buczkowski (upright bass), and Brandon Harper (percussion).

About Merit
For over 40 years, Merit School of Music has been dedicated to helping young people transform their lives by providing equal access to a high-quality music education, with nearly 70 percent of students benefitting from need-based financial aid and low-cost instrument rental. Merit enables motivated students, regardless of economic circumstance, to develop their talent and to use music as a springboard for achieving their full personal potential, with virtually 100 percent of our conservatory graduates going on to college.

‘Play On’ benefit concert tickets, priced from $25-$45, are on sale now by visiting or calling (312) 733-9463; a limited number of special MOJO VIP package tickets are available for $100 and include premium seating, a specially-curated ‘Play On’ bottle of City Winery wine and special edition Merit t-shirt.

For more information on Merit School of Music and its 2nd Annual ‘Play On’ benefit concert please visit

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