Nineteen albums in, after working with the top-drawer jazz masters, like Antonio Sanchez
, Christian McBride
, Nasheet Waits
, Sean Jones
, Marcus Gilmore
, Steve Wilson
, Jeremy Pelt
, Lewis Nash
, Billy Hart
, Larry Grenadier
, Rudy Royston
, and Bobby Militello
, among others, LISA HILTON strips her music down to the essentials and returns to the solo format with Day & Night
to be released on the Ruby Slippers Productions label (#1021) with a street date of December 16 th 2016 and heading to radio on January 2nd. Hilton was last heard in this setting with her acclaimed 2010 release, NUANCE
, which All About Jazz said was “a recording that focuses and captures the exquisite subtleties of life”.
For this album, Hilton looked to the great American composer Cole Porter—one of her favorite composers, for inspiration, (the CD title Day & Night
is a nod to Porter’s classic, Night and Day"). As Hilton noted, “I have always appreciated Cole Porter’s lush melodies and gentle Latin rhythms—and, interestingly, we’re both from small towns!” (Porter from Peru, Indiana and Hilton in San Luis Obispo, California). Hilton includes a searing and simple take on Porters classic, “Begin the Beguine”, which turns wondrously seductive under her touch. Her original tunes, “Stepping into Paradise”, “A Spark in the Night” and “So This is Love” do convey the some of Porter’s cosmopolitan essence, but also embedded in Hilton’s realization of her nine original compositions is the vibrating energy and bluesy soul of fellow composer/pianists “Count” Bill Basie, and Horace Silver
. Hilton has wound an underlying concept through the music of Day & Night
. Mirroring her solo format, the theme Hilton writes of in her liner notes is introspective: “Day & Night echoes my commitment to discover and savor every day moments: to see the beauty in a day from the first glow of sunrise to the dimming sky at sunset, and to acknowledge and share these these rich times others.” Day & Night
begins with the upbeat samba charmer, “Caffeinated Culture” before the title track delivers its sophisticated drama. Hilton’s “Seduction” an earlier composition from her NOCTURNAL
album—attests to Hilton’s fluid pianistic style, but with traces of the Basie and Silver influences holding sway. “Sunrise” and “Sunset on the Beach” both feature Hilton as a strong impressionist—one of the unique qualities of her compositions, while “Dark Sky Day” hints of Hilton’s classical training. Hilton has composed her pieces to treat the traditional in new ways, combining multiple rhythmic and genre ideas as if to try and shine a different light to the scene of a shared cup of coffee, a jostle of memories or the simmer of passions held dear to the heart.
23-time Grammy winning engineer, Al Schmitt lends his masterful talents to these ten tracks that were recorded at the legendary Capitol Studios in Hollywood—a treat for any audiophile. There is a remarkable intimacy and immediacy that brings you right inside the sound—Hilton has worked with Schmitt and Grammy award winning Gavin Lurssen, for over a decade.
This past year, Hilton premiered her 2016 album NOCTURNAL at Carnegie Hall in January. The eleven tracks, recorded with the stellar band of Antonio Sanchez/drums, Terell Stafford/trumpet, Gregg August/bass and J.D. Allen on tenor sax, show a remarkable emotional depth and clarity from all musicians with plenty of virtuosic moments. On the album, especially in her “Midnight Sonata”, Hilton utilized improvisation, blues, modal washes, shifting key centers, and free jazz, as well as impressionism to create a refreshing yet familiar vibe. Russ Davis of the Voice of America declared this album was “Another in a growing list of deep excellent works from Hilton”, and that “no one plays, writes or puts together a band better than this great, talented lady!” The New York City Jazz Record called NOCTURNAL “Remarkable”, and Jazz Weekly praised it as “a collection of hard hitting originals, her strongest outing yet.” This year Hilton once again will debut the music at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall on January 10, 2017 at 8pm this time in the solo piano format of “Day & Night”
Hilton is considered one of the most distinctive composers and pianists in jazz today, her compositions drawing on classical traditions, twentieth century modernists, and the avant-garde as much as they look back to icons of American jazz and blues. Hilton’s blues inflected trans-genre or poly-genre style influences extend beyond jazz legends Thelonious Monk, Count Basie, Horace Silver and Duke Ellington, to include bluesman Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson, minimalists like Steve Reich, current rockers Black Keys or modernists Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Bartok. Originally from a small town on California’s central coast, Hilton studied classical and twentieth century piano formally from the age of eight, where she was inspired by her great uncle, Willem Bloemendall, (1910-1937), a young Dutch piano virtuoso. In college though, due to the lack of creativity in the program, she became a music school drop out, switching majors and receiving a degree in art instead.
Ever since becoming a professional musician, this background in the fine arts has well informed Hilton’s composition process. “While Louis Armstrong was performing, Monet was painting water lilies and French composers like Debussy were using harmonic ‘impressionism’. As a composer today, I explore music as art, building the composition with musical elements then ‘painting’ texture and color through various jazz approaches,” Hilton explains. “I might apply Seurat’s pointillism ideas to improvisation, creating new ways of expressing our life today.”
As an artist working with award-winning musicians and engineers, Hilton has produced 19 albums and over 200 iTunes tracks through her publishing company Lisa Hilton Music. Known for her warmth and leadership while showcasing diversity on stage, Hilton plays top venues and clubs coast-to-coast and continues to work with this era's jazz luminaries. Her releases appear on radio charts year after year for over a decade and have been heard on hundreds of radio stations around the world.
Committed to helping students who are often overlooked, for many years Hilton has regularly spent time to help blind students at the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who are Blind or Visually Impaired, The Junior Blind of America in Los Angeles, Camp Bloomfield for the Blind in California, or The Berklee College in Boston and their adaptive music lab for visually impaired musicians. “I enjoy extending help to those with physical disabilities—music should be for everyone,” Hilton explains.
DAY & NIGHT Track Listing
1. Caffeinated Culture 3:33
2. Day and Night 4:07
3. Begin the Beguine 4:54
4. Sunrise 3:28
5. Spark in the Night 7:11
6. Stepping Into Paradise 7:07
7. Seduction 6:22
8. Dark Sky Day 2:06
9. So This is Love 6:41
10. Sunset at the Beach 3:19
Running time: 49 minutes
January 10 / Tuesday 2017 Weill Hall At Carnegie Hall 8 pm NYC
February 9 / Junior Blind Of America 4 pm / Los Angeles, CA
February 18 /Saturday / Broad Theater/ 7 pm / Santa Monica, CA
March 3 / Friday The Old Church 8 pm /Portland, OR
March 10 / Friday SFJAZZ /Joe Henderson Lab/ 8Pm /San Francisco, CA
April 8 / Saturday Berklee College / 8 pm Boston, MA
April 11 / Tuesday The Green Mill / 5:30-8 pm Chicago, IL