Lisa Hilton / Bio
One of the most distinctive and instantly recognizable composers and pianists in jazz today, Lisa Hilton has honed her evocative, individualistic and impressionistic “sound paintings” for over a decade as a leader. Like Dave Brubeck and Bill Evans, her imagistic compositions draw as deeply on the classical tradition and the avant-garde as much as they look back to jazz greats like Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington. A lifelong passion for music and art informs this California native’s sonic tableaux. Hilton’s approach is nuanced, and expressive, her compositional style thorough and painterly, her touch on the keyboard alternately tender, brooding and resonantly emotive, yet methodically cerebral.
Over the course of her creative career, the “Lioness of Jazz” has played with many of this era’s jazz luminaries, notably Christian McBride, Steve Wilson, Jeremy Pelt, Lewis Nash and Bobby Militello of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Hilton has released a total of fourteen albums, (over 170 iTunes tracks), including two recordings with her acclaimed quartet comprising perennial Downbeat Rising Star tenor saxophonist JD Allen, the standout bassist Larry Grenadier and inventive drummer Nasheet Waits. A leading advocate for 21st century composition, Hilton notes, “I’ve only seen the New York that inspired Gershwin in movies. Jazz composers must create a body of work that represents the sound and energy of our lives today”. Hilton’s post bop style influences extend beyond jazz legends to include bluesman Muddy Waters, minimalists like Steve Reich, current rockers Green Day and modernists Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Bartok.
Known for her warmth and leadership on the stage, Hilton has played major jazz venues coast to coast, both as a solo pianist and with her band, and been heard on hundreds of radio stations around the world – including syndicated programs like NPR’s popular Morning Edition. Committed to helping students of all abilities, Hilton has led master classes, with a special commitment to helping young, blind musicians at the historic 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 and helped with The Berklee College of Music in Boston and their adaptive music lab for visually impaired musicians.
Radio: Hilton’s music is played on hundreds of radio stations in the U.S., Canada and around the world, and has been featured prominently on shows like NPR’s Morning Edition, various airlines and XM. Broadly appealing to all ages, Hilton’s albums appeared on many radio charts such as JazzWeek, CMJ, and Earshot Jazz/Canada.
Television: Hilton has been featured on CBS/Boston and WGN/Chicago.
Written Word: A published author, Lisa Hilton has also written for Jazz Times and Jazziz magazine. She is currently working on a book about musicianship, and appears in the Random House book, “The New Face of Jazz”, by Cicily Janus. She has had a music blog on her website since 2001.
Favorite jazz pianists: Brad Mehldau, John Escreet, Dan Tepfer, Marc Cary, Matthew Shipp, McCoy Tyner, Timothy Andres
Musical influences: Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk
Pianos: “American Impressions”, “Underground,” “Nuance”, “The New York Sessions,” and “Twilight & Blues,” were recorded on a Hamburg Steinway provided by Steinway & Sons, NY at Avatar Studios. “Sunny Day Theory,” “Midnight In Manhattan,” and were recorded on a Hamburg Steinway provided by Fields Pianos, Los Angeles. Hilton’s practice piano is a Steinway B.
J.D. Allen: Tenor Saxophone
Detroit native and tenor saxman and DownBeat Critic’s Choice Award winner, J. D. Allen has toured and played with Cindy Blackman, Betty Carter, Ron Carter, Dave Douglas and Jack DeJohnette to name a few. His CD placed on the Village Vanguard critic’s choice poll for Album of the year 2008, as well as top 10 album of the year at Jazzwise and Top 50 CD’s for Jazz Times for 2008. http://www.myspace.com/jdallen11
Larry Grenadier: Bass
Bassist Larry Grenadier, a DownBeat Critics’s choice winner, tours extensively with Brad Mehldau, but also has recorded with Chris Potter, Joshua Redman, Pat Metheny, and Chick Corea and others, as well as his band Fly with Glen Ballard and Mark Turner. http://flytrio.com/
Nasheet Waits: Drums
An exceptionally creative drummer and DownBeat Award winner, Greenwich Village based Waits is the son of drummer Freddie Waits and is known for his work with jazz artists Jason Moran, Kurt Rosenwinkel, John Escreet, Fred Hersch and the late Andrew Hill. www.nasheetwaits.com
Jeremy Pelt: Trumpet
Berklee grad and DownBeat Critic’s Choice Winner, Jeremy Pelt has appeared the last five years as a DownBeat Rising Star trumpeter, and received the attention of Nat Hentoff in an extensive Wall Street Journal article. Pelt is a leader of his own band, but also has performed with others such as Nancy Wilson, Cedar Walton, and Ravi Coltrane. http://jeremypelt.net
Lewis Nash: Drums
Lewis Nash is consistently on Downbeat Magazine’s critic’s choice awards and has performed with Stan Getz, Art Farmer, Clark Terry and Milt Jackson. His impressive discography (over 300 recordings) includes projects with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Benny Carter, Hank Jones, and John Lewis, as well as new jazz stars Diana Krall, Joe Lovano and Roy Hargrove. Demonstrating his stylistic diversity, Nash is also featured on recordings by Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Nancy Wilson, Kenny Rankin, Melissa Manchester and George Michael. His lectures, clinics and workshops are as much in demand as his bandstand and studio work. http://www.lewisnash.com/
Brice Winston: Saxophone
Saxophonist Brice Winston has been spending the last several years touring with trumpeter Terence Blanchard’s band, honing his skills with some of the most cutting edge young musicians on the jazz scene today, from drummer Eric Harland, guitarist Lionel Loueke and the Nicholas Payton Quintet. His time with Terence has brought playing experiences with some of the jazz greats like Herbie Hancock, Slide Hampton, John Faddis, Marcus Miller, and Cassandra Wilson, among others, and he has performed on a dozen movie scores. Brice attended the University of New Orleans under the direction of Ellis Marsalis. Brice is currently back in his hometown of Tucson, AZ, teaching a community jazz program called Jazzwerx, while continuing to tour with Terence Blanchard. www.bricewinston.com/
Christian McBride: Bass
Grammy Award and DownBeat Poll winner Christian McBride, virtuoso of the acoustic and electric bass graduated from Julliard. Beginning in 1989, the Philadelphian has thus far been first-call-requested to accompany literally hundreds of fine artists, ranging in an impressive array from McCoy Tyner and Sting to Kathleen Battle and Diana Krall. He currently leads one of the hottest bands in music – the propulsive Christian McBride Band (saxophonist Ron Blake, keyboardist Geoffrey Keezer and drummer Terreon Gully). http://www.christianmcbride.com/
Steve Wilson: Alto and Soprano Saxophone
A musician’s musician, Wilson had been documented on over 100 recording with the likes of Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Dianne Reeves, and Billy Childs. Wilson has six recordings under his own name. http://www.stevewilsonmusic.com/
Bobby Militello: Sax
Bobby is well known to jazz fans for his many years of working with the master himself, Dave Brubeck. With over one hundred recordings he has played on to his name, the New Yorker also spent two years on the Tonight Show with Doc Severinson. www.bobbymilitello.com
Reggie McBride: Bass
Reggie McBride was going to go to Berklee School of Music on scholarship before he was recuited to do a Stevie Wonder recording. He is originally from Detroit. His background is more blues-oriented, and he has worked on major recordings for B.B. King, Elton John, Al Jarreau, Rod Stewart, and current Billboard chart topper, Keb Mo. He plays acoustic and electric bass, and lives in North San Diego County.
Tal Bergman: Percussion
Tal Bergman was born in Israel, studied classical drumming, and moved to New York at age 20. Tal has worked in every genre of music as well as written scores for several mainstream movies. He has toured and played with musicians in many genres… rock: The Offspring, Billy Idol; jazz: Chris Botti and icon Joe Zawinul; pop: Rod Steward; urban: L.L. Cool J; and classical crossover: Loreena McKennitt.