We all face challenging times, and 2007 was a year of particular challenge for passionate pianist, prolific composer and hardworking producer Lisa Hilton. The passing of her dear friend/jazz icon Joe Zawinul, the devastating wildfires burning around her hometown, a horrible war ravaging the planet and the death of her mother - all scattered amongst the everyday" difficulties of love and life. Yet Lisa perceived that with grief there is indeed grace; for every pain, pleasure can follow; and that after fire there can indeed be re-growth. As a result of these musings, her latest CD, Sunny Day Theory, was conceived. Recorded and mixed by eighteen-time Grammy-winning engineer Al Schmitt, Sunny Day Theory features the stellar musical support of Lewis Nash (Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson) on drums, Larry Grenadier (Brad Mehldau) on bass and Brice Winston (Terence Blanchard) on tenor sax, and will be released September 16th by Ruby Slippers Productions/Koch Distribution.
I was talking with my engineer Larry Mah one day and he made me laugh, recounting a 'Foggy Day Theory' he created while sitting in a traffic jam in L.A.," says Hilton, I immediately countered with a 'Sunny Day Theory' which basically assumes that every difficulty, if embraced honestly, will create the opportunity for growth, hope and light."
Featuring eight self-penned tracks and four songs from noted songwriters Hoagy Carmichael, Joni Mitchell, Pete Seeger and Joe Zawinul, Sunny Day Theory" is an impressive upbeat song-cycle of deep emotional intensity, expressing a wide array of feelings through Lisa Hilton's unique voice - that of her piano. It is a voice that plays music with honesty, authenticity, skill and character - a character steeped in the past but graciously infused with the present. From the mambo vibe of the song Heat Wave" to the traditional blues feel of So Blue;" from the first blush of a crush in So This Is Love" to the feelings of utter despair in After the Fire;" from the ambiguity and hope of the title track to the tranquility of an early stroll at the beach in Malibu Morning" - all of the songs on Sunny Day Theory were written and/or chosen because of the wide array of emotions which they convey - and these emotions are at the core of our everyday lives.
Said Hilton, During this difficult time I often found myself especially savoring the beauty of life we sometimes take for granted: fresh-washed mornings, delightful warm weather and long, contemplative walks on the beach at sunset. All these things have found their way onto Sunny Day Theory in one form or another."
As an aside, Hilton is extremely committed to broadening the public's interest in instrumental music and jazz music as a both an art form and tradition, and to developing music programs for children and teens -- especially for those students who are blind or visually impaired. Through her workshops specifically created for organizations such as The Junior Blind of America Camp, The Chicago Lighthouse For The Blind and The Perkins School For The Blind in Boston (Helen Keller's alma mater), Hilton is able to coax-out that same heart-felt enthusiasm that she has for music with teens and adults who might otherwise be reluctant, and also works closely with each individual institution in implementing public relations outreach campaigns to raise awareness in the local community for their specific music programs for the blind. All programs are gratis.
One additional philanthropic note: In honor of the spirit of the song, Lisa will be donating all 2008 proceeds derived from the digitally-downloaded sales (iTunes, et al) of the Peter Seeger-penned track Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" on Sunny Day Theory" to The Carter Center. The Carter Center was created in 1982 by former President and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.
The daughter of a college professor and an accountant, Lisa Hilton grew up in Southern California and was musically inspired by the stories of her great uncle, a renowned Dutch pianist. Utilizing a colored keyboard guide, Hilton taught herself to play the piano and compose at age six, beginning the study of classical and modern piano literature at eight. As a teen, she played Standards and began writing blues riffs, but quit her beloved piano completely when she became disillusioned with classical music after a bout with an overly-rigid teacher. Studying art and photography in college, she became an art director, designing for clients like CBS and Twentieth Century Fox, winning a Hollywood Reporter Key Art Award, and writing a successful children's book.
After years of keeping music at bay, she credits her friend and producer/composer David Foster (Josh Groban, Celine Dion) for reigniting her long lost love of music back in 1997 with the release of her first CD, the self-produced Seduction." Ten-and-a-half years and ten CD's later, Hilton brings forth a cool jazz for the here and now - indeed reminiscent and drawing inspiration from such West Coast musical luminaries as Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Stan Getz and Dave Brubeck. Throughout her prolific career she has shown an impeccable virtuosity and range at the keyboard, improvising with some of the most respected names in jazz today (Christian McBride, Bobby Miltello, Tal Bergman, Steve Wilson, Reggie McBride, Lewis Nash and Larry Grenadier among others).