Laced with a pulsating West Coast cool energy, the award-winning composer and acclaimed pianist Lisa K. Hiltons’, recordings are imbued with subtle historical references from a wide variety of genres and eras, sounding distinctly twenty-first century and uniquely of her own style. Her compositional inspirations do spring from jazz legends Thelonious Monk, Count Basie, Horace Silver and Duke Ellington, but they also include her favorite bluesmen, Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson, touches of minimalism from the likes Steve Reich, rhythmic swatches from modernists such as Prokofiev and Bartok or chords from rockers like The Black Keys or Green Day – they all hold sway in Hilton’s imagination when she composes.
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 Dutch piano virtuoso. Hilton accompanied on the piano for her grammar school glee club starting in third grade, later joining orchestra and band on flute, and performed piano scores for high school musicals.
In college though, due to the lack of creativity in the music program, she dropped out, switching majors and receiving a degree in art instead. Since becoming a professional musician though, this background in the arts has informed Hilton’s composition process noting that she “paints” her compositions with harmonic washes and then “sculpts” them with textural and rhythmic ideas. In the book, The New Face of Jazz, by Cicily Janus (with an introduction by jazz legend, Wynton Marsalis and an afterword by jazz icon, Sonny Rollins), Janus notes that Hilton has been “compared to some of the best pianists in history” – comparisons are often made to the legendary Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck, but Hilton’s compositions are also considered to be reminiscent of musical impressionists such as Claude Debussy and Erik Satie
Hilton has performed at venues across the US from the legendary Carnegie Hall to Chicago’s historic Green Mill and is known her expressive technique at the piano as well as for her warmth and storytelling on stage. Over a career that has lasted several years, Hilton has worked with many of todays’ living jazz legends such as JD Allen, Rudy Royston, Larry Grenadier, Terell Stafford, Christian McBride, Sean Jones, Billy Hart, Marcus Gilmore, Nasheet Waits and others. Her latest recording, OASIS was recorded with Luques Curtis on bass and Mark Whitfield Jr. on drums. With her high-profile band mates, Hilton continues producing an album a year through her publishing company, Lisa Hilton Music®. Her deep catalog of compositions is now nearing 300 recorded tracks – and her releases annually receiving strong support from radio and acclaim from critics around the world.
Hilton now lives in Malibu, California – home at one time to jazz musicians Miles Davis, Joe Zawinul, and Horace Silver among others – finding inspiration in the essence of the sun-dappled hills and within the fog-dense mornings along the beach. The daughter of a professor of biology, nature holds a special place in Hilton’s life, and she brings in the wider world outside into her compositions with titles such as Vapors & Shadows from OASIS, Mojave Moon off 2017’s ESCAPISM, and Sunset on the Beach from the album DAY & NIGHT.
Committed to helping students who are often overlooked, Hilton has regularly spends time to help students who are blind or visually impaired 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.
“No one plays, writes or puts together a band better than this great, talented lady! NOCTURNAL is another in a growing list of deep excellent works from Hilton.”
Russ Davis/Voice of America
“NOCTURNAL is simply phenomenal. The composing and playing on this album is a tour de force. A quantum lead forward outward and upward for Hilton as a composer and she and her band have executed it flawlessly – truly an amazing group producing truly amazing music.. This is the best album I’ve heard in a decade, maybe in two decades. Deserving of record of the year on anyone’s list.”
“A collection of hard-hitting originals… her strongest outing yet.”
“Mastery of the keyboard…her music offers a unique blend of concepts and of past and future that’s quite beautiful…” – Burning Ambulance
“Lisa Hilton has done a remarkable job.”
The New York Jazz City Record
‘Lisa Hilton is one of the finest musical impressionists…’
Ken Franckling/Jazz Notes
…”speaks subtly of Satie and sublimely of Ellington… and a whirl of Brubeckian piano….”
DOWNLOAD PRESS PHOTOS
ABOUT THE MUSICIANS
LUQUES CURTIS: BASS
After graduating from the Greater Hartford Academy of Performing Arts, Curtis won a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music. After moving to NYC, he has performed with Orrin Evans, Eddie Palmieri, Gary Burton, Christian Scott and others. He is a recent recipient of the DownBeat Magazine Critics Poll Rising Star Bassist. He has performed on several Grammy nominated releases and has also released recordings with his brother Zacchai Curtis, who is a pianist. http://www.luquescurtis.com/
MARK WHITFIELD JR.: DRUMS
Mark Whitfield Jr. comes from a musical dynasty, beginning on drums before his earliest memories. He made his first concert appearance at age two as a guest drummer with his father, guitarist Mark Whitfield, and clarinet legend Alvin Batiste. At four, he appeared with his father’s quartet on the Good Morning America 1994, and he would continue to perform with his father throughout his early years. Whitfield, was on full scholarship at Berklee College, graduating in 2011 and has performed at the Newport, Duke Ellington, and Monterey Jazz Festivals. https://www.facebook.com/markwhitfieldjr/
ANTONIO SANCHEZ: DRUMS
Four time Grammy Award winner Antonio Sanchez is considered by many critics and musicians alike as one of the most prominent drummers, bandleaders and composers of his generation. Born in Mexico City on November 1st, 1971, he started playing drums at the age of 5 and began performing professionally early in his teens. Antonio pursued a degree in classical piano at the National Conservatory in Mexico and in 1993 he moved to Boston to enroll at Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory. He graduated Magna Cum Laude in Jazz Studies. Since his move to New York City in 1999 Antonio has become one of the most sought after drummers in the international jazz scene. His playing is featured in over a hundred albums and has performed and recorded with some of the biggest names in jazz including Chick Corea, Michael Brecker, Charlie Haden, Gary Burton and has been the drummer of choice for 20 time Grammy winner Pat Metheny. He wrote the acclaimed score for the 2014 movie, “Birdman” featuring Michael Keaton, Emma Thompson and Naomi Watts.
GREGG AUGUST: BASS
Bassist Gregg August spans the jazz, Latin jazz, classical and avant-garde scenes. A sought-after composer and arranger, celebrated for his versatility, breadth and intelligence, Gregg has been an active member of the New York music scene for over ten years. He attended SUNY and The Eastman School of Music and received a Masters degree from The Julliard School. August has played with Ray Barretto, Ornette Coleman, Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo O’Farrill, JD Allen, Chick Corea, James Moody, The Chico O’Farrill Big Band, The Lincoln Center’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and the Brooklyn Philharmonic among others. http://www.greggaugust.com
TERRELL STAFFORD: TRUMPET
This acclaimed trumpet player is based in New York, and has been hailed as “one of the great players of our time, a fabulous trumpet player” by piano legend McCoy Tyner. Stafford is recognized as an incredibly gifted and versatile player, he combines a deep love of melody with his own brand of spirited and adventurous lyricism. Stafford is the Director of Jazz Studies and Chair of Instrumental Studies at Temple University, founder and band leader of the Terell Stafford Quintet, and Managing and Artistic Director of the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia (JOP). He was born in Miami and raised in Chicago, Illinois and Silver Spring, Maryland. He received a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Maryland in 1988 and a Masters of Music from Rutgers University. http://www.terellstafford.com/
J.D. ALLEN: TENOR SAXOPHONE
A Detroit native, J.D. Allen has spent most of his career in New York City, where he has played with Lester Bowie, George Cables, Betty Carter, Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette, Frank Foster Big Band, Butch Morris, Wallace Roney, Cindy Blackman, Orrin Evans, Gerald Cleaver, and Me’shell Ndegeocello, among others. Allen’s debut album, In Search Of J.D. Allen, was awarded the Best New Artist award in Italy in 1999, and he has received numerous honors and award for what the New York Times describes as his “elegant and hard driving style.” http://www.jdallentenorsaxophonist.com/
SEAN JONES: TRUMPET
For the composer/trumpeter/educator/activist Sean Jones, the pursuit of jazz is a most serious endeavor. Deeply influenced by his immersion in Gospel music in the church as a youth, Sean had an epiphany at the age of 19 while he was a student at Youngstown State University. Five years later, after receiving his Master’s Degree from Rutgers University Sean had a 6-month stint with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. He has worked with Joe Lovano, Chico O’Farrill, Illinois Jacquet, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, Nancy Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Gerald Wilson, Marcus Miller, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter among others. He began teaching at Duquesne University in his adopted hometown of Pittsburgh, where he is currently Associate Professor of Jazz. In 2012 he also became Professor of Trumpet at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Sean also serves as Artistic Director of both the Pittsburgh and Cleveland Jazz Orchestras. Jones is currently the trumpet Chair at Berklee College. http://www.seanjonesmusic.com
MARCUS GILMORE: DRUMS
“The grandson of Roy Haynes, jazz’s most important living drummer, but he has proved his own virtues quickly. He created that pleasant citywide buzz when someone new and special blows through New York clubs and jam sessions. Now you can hear him regularly, playing with Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Nicholas Payton, Vijay Iyer, Ambrose Akinmusire, Yosvany Terry, Gretchen Parlato and others.”
RUDY ROYSTON: DRUMS
A native of Ft. Worth, Texas, drummer Rudy Royston was raised in Denver, Colorado and began playing drums and percussion as a toddler. Rudy graduated with honors from University of Denver, where he received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Music and Poetry. Upon graduating college, Rudy went on to play and record in the gospel, alternative rock and jazz scenes in Denver and around the United States. He taught music 10 years in public schools before relocating to the east coast in 2006 to pursue graduate studies in music at Rutgers University. Rudy quickly integrated into the New York music scene, performing with world-renowned artists such as Javon Jackson, Bill Frisell, Les McCann, David Gilmore, Ben Allison, Jason Moran, JD Allen, Sean Jones, Jeremy Pelt, Greg Osby, Jennifer Holiday, Tia Fuller, Ravi Coltrane, Ralph Bowen, Bruce Barth, George Colligan, Don Byron, Stanley Cowell, Tom Harrell, John Ellis, Jenny Scheinman and The Mingus Big Band, to name a few. http://www.rudyroyston.com
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.