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#73 iTunes Portugal Chart for ‘Café au Mojo’
“My favorite album that I have worked on with Lisa – there’s lots of great music!” – 23 Time Award Winning Grammy® Engineer Al Schmitt
“We live in an exciting time of constant change…” is the introductory quote from the award winning composer, and acclaimed pianist Lisa Kristine Hilton, in her liner notes for her latest release “Chalkboard Destiny” – recorded with jazz luminaries JD Allen on tenor sax, Rudy Royston on drums and Luques Curtis on bass. It’s an appropriate prelude for an album that unfolds with the track Rush Hour Rhapsody – quickly exposing the listener to the robust energy of Hilton’s band.
There’s also a hard-to-pin-down energy flowing between Allen’s explosive virtuoso displays, the dynamic details of Royston’s accents and the booming lines of Curtis’s bass alongside Hilton’s fluid piano, which is impressive in a beguiling way. Allen’s solo in the middle of Sympathy for Blues is astounding, and along with Curtis’s agile bass, Royston’s touch and the laid back retro charm of Hilton’s piano you’ll want to play this one over and over.Hilton conveys that the concept behind Chalkboard Destiny is the idea that our future, our destiny, can be continually reshaped, – implying that we are not beholden by history or traditional myths, allowing us a freedom in creation. The title track, Chalkboard Destiny, easily exhibits this concept with Royston’s rim shots crackling for attention. Hilton shows her harmonic and emotional depth with her tender ballad, Temporary Lullaby, as well as the moving Waltz From Nowhere. The Joni Mitchell classic, Blue Boy showcases the compatibility of this group – Allen’s dusky tenor a contrast to his band mates. Tracks Tropic of Tango, Myths & Fantasy, and Adventures & Alibis all explore Latin rhythms and engaging harmonic ideas as well. Café au Mojo, is a bright piece where traditional ideas abound. It’s noteworthy that Grammy award winning engineers – Al Schmitt, Gavin Lurssen, Reuben Cohen, Fernando Lodeiro all contributed to the high quality soundscape. Altogether an exuberant exhibition of top notch players rallying around traditional ideas in new ways. Sounds like destiny.
Q & A with Lisa Hilton
Q. Another new release – how many is that now?
Lisa Hilton: Well let’s see, twenty- two releases in the US & two in Asia, so twenty- four total. There’s a couple of compilations that my work has also appeared on!
Q. You must be very disciplined, to put out new recordings every year, right?
A: I don’t look at it that way at all! I have a deep love for composing and then I appreciate growing the music through the recording and touring aspects. Sure, it take years to develop your skill set, but now I get to devote time doing what I love and touching people’s lives musically around the world every year. That’s fun, not work for me.
Q. Tell us about the concept for Chalkboard Destiny.
A: The last two to three years have seemed unusually full of tumult on our planet: from politics to climate catastrophes. I’m not even sure when this kind of flux last happened. But it’s starting to sink in that this is our new normal, so I started looking at the advantages of living in a time of accelerated change. It’s a time to rewrite history, to bust myths, to create our own fantasies perhaps and to forge a new destiny or future. That’s pretty cool. I think artistically it’s a fertile time I choose to explore – I think you can hear that blend of jazz traditions performed within a new context on the album – I think you can hear a little bit of (jazz pianists/composers), a little bit of Count Basie, a little Horace Silver…
Q. and some Coltrane too…
A: Yeah, JD reminds me of Coltrane. I’ve worked with him since 2009, and I’ve toured and recorded with JD, Rudy and Luques a few times too, so we feel like family – I think you can hear that. I love Luques’s cool bass lines, & Rudy’s detail work as well as JD’s colossal sound. I’m a big fan of my bandmates!
Q. It does sound like you guys work really well together, really complimenting each other’s style.
A: We really enjoyed recording it. You know, we never rehearse, I just introduce the composition and then we play, so everything you hear is unfolding in the moment and it creates a tension you can hear. My favorite track was Sympathy for Blues – that piece just explodes in the middle section! Luques said he liked the Rush Hour Rhapsody best with its old school vibe, and Rudy said he wished he had written Temporary Lullaby himself, which is kind of him. JD said he especially liked Waltz From Nowhere and the ‘Spanish tinge’ of Myths & Fantasy which is interesting. He sounds very classical on those tracks.
Q. Is there a story behind the Joni Mitchell track, Blue Boy?
A: Joni Mitchell is an incredible composer and Blue Boy is a very strong composition. I seem to be drawn more to composers who are women and I think it’s important to support women in my industry too – most jazz standards are all written by men, so we need to work towards greater parity. I think Joni was referring to her lover Leonard Cohen in her lyrics and the inevitable demise of that relationship. In the studio the band was a bit reluctant to record it – I don’t think they really knew the piece. So I told them what I heard in my head, and played it though once for them. Then we did two breathtakingly beautiful takes together. Thankfully afterwards everyone was like, “Great idea – I loved that, so I’m glad we did record it!
Q. I noticed you worked again with top tier engineers Al Schmitt, Fernando Lodeiro, Gavin Lurssen and Reuben Cohen.
A: I first worked with (twenty three Grammy® Award winning engineer) Al Schmitt in 2003 I think – I admire him as an artist in his field and a very inspiring person too. In 2009 on Twilight & Blues Fernando Lodeiro worked on that project with us and I really liked him, and now he’s a Grammy® Award winning engineer too! Gavin Lurssen I have worked with since 1997 and his business partner Reuben Cohen for several years – they have their share of Grammy’s® as well. I really care about the sound, and I’m lucky to have these steadfast relationships with the best engineers in the world.
Q. When do you start your touring?
A: Janary 9th at Carnegie Hall – I think it’s my sixth year in a row that week at Carnegie. What’s I think I is cool is that I bring the music of a woman composer when I tour – most performing arts centers only perform work by male composers, so I am helping to change that. We’ll also do a show for Perkins School for the Blind in Boston – I like to be supportive of students who are visually impaired every year.
“WOW! Hilton has an absolutely unique and beautiful sound and regardless of the tempo, she has an irresistible momentum and brilliant phrasing. Chalkboard Destiny is one of the top ten jazz albums I have ever heard…just the unvarnished truth.” KVNF Radio
“Hilton remains firmly rooted in modernist technique, mastering each tune with elegance and edginess….This is a strong quartet; each musician showcases his or her own creative energy and when they come together, nothing but virtuoso madness results….Hilton has a knack for writing original compositions that expand the traditional pianist spectrum.” Jazz Times
“Chalkboard Destiny and the quartet Hilton calls her own—drummer Rudy Royston, bassist Luques Curtis and JD Allen on tenor sax—create a vibe which is really hard to turn away from. Just press play anywhere on the disc and you won’t be disappointed in any way. Just the opposite, to be exact. For there is a richness to the sound of four people playing music meant to capture your attention, as Hilton’s intrigue makes her compositions more malleable than ever, opening time and space for her and her cohorts to re-imagine and define. “Chalkboard Destiny,” “Temporary Lullaby,” and the elastic emotionality of Joni Mitchell‘s “Blue Boy” are the heart and soul of the disc, and what any listener of this grand language comes to the music for. The quiet depth achieved on “Temporary Lullaby” simply has to be heard, not spoken or written about. The quartet’s expansive rendering of the fifty-year-old “Blue Boy” only proves that we share the same heart here, then, now, and forever. Hilton packs a lot into small spaces…a recording that is simply one of the best of the year.” All About Jazz/ Mike Jurkovich
“My favorite album we’ve worked on – there’s a lot of great music!” Al Schmitt 23 time Grammy Award winning engineer/producer
“Hilton’s phrasing and upbeat tempo creates an energy and vibrancy that defies category.” AAJ
“It’s fantastic – I love every track! The presentation and musical style and production is wonderful and an absolute pleasure to listen to.” Pete Hammond/2MAXFM/ Australia
“Hilton music is full of West Coast cool energy and her recordings have subtle historical references from a wide variety of genres and eras, sounding distinctly twenty-first century and uniquely of her own style.” NeonJazz
“Lisa Hilton has good taste. She knows where she’s going and gets there… and her attack is confident… and her approach to the keyboard is extremely balanced.” NYC Jazz Record
“It’s like a magic carpet ride. Great variety, dynamic recorded range, and swings in many directions.” Captain Christopher/WHYR Radio
“Deeply rhythmic and bluesy…” Downbeat Magazine
“Excellence as always from Ms. Hilton.” KZFR/CA
“Jazz at it’s best.” World Jam Radio – London, UK
“This is the atmosphere we must have tonight…the place is filled with Hip to the ceiling. Nine sly, simmering originals by Hilton and a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Blue Boy.” Milo Miles/Miles To Go
“I was not familiar with Lisa Hilton’s music. I was expecting to hear a style similar to Diana Krall’s. Surprise! Hilton has her own unique style but just as captivating and expressive.” KDSU Radio
“A quartet with lyrical power and communicative dynamism. A dream rhythm section for this siren of white and black ivories…. note after note the seductive power of the album transports us…an album to recommend urgently.” Côte Sud 90.3 FM/Paris, France
“A lyrical oriented modern hard-bop performance that has a perfect crisp groove…delicious and sincere”. Catfish Records/Japan
“I’m so glad to meet this newest release.” JazzHeart Radio Seoul, South Korea
“Lisa Hilton is always a pleasure: her piano is magic!” Radio Arc-en-Ciel 103.4 FM /France
“Stellar line-up of musicians.” News Break
“Solid throughout.” Midwest Record
“Albums like “Chalkboard Destiny” scream for attention and praise. The group is strong, assured, creative and fresher than most of what is being passed around these days as modern jazz. Few artists have a personal and yet accessible sound these days. Hilton gets put in the top rung on this one.” George Harris/JazzWeekly
“Brilliant!” ArtSound FM/Australia
“This is straight-ahead, eminently listenable jazz, played with both energy and finesse, showcasing Hilton’s compositional strengths… It’s a beautiful listen.” Elmore Magazine
“A new jazz classic! Virtuoso playing with such smoothness and soul! Love it!” KFAI/MN
“A talented American female pianist, Lisa Hilton’s piano passionately sings phrases with the tension of Allen’s deep tone that emits a radiance that is intertwined!” Vento Azul/Japan
“An intimate and solid piano, with harmonies that seduce and captivate; Lisa Hilton has authentic and continuous musical creative passion.” Actual Jazz/Uruguay
“…Along with her all – star trio.. “Chalkboard Destiny” presents a defining bold sound….among the best of Lisa Hilton’s great music…. .Sounds of Timeless Jazz
“Known for her expressive technique at the piano..” Exclusive Magazine
“Great sound!” BBC Global Radio 1 & Energy FM/UK
“One of my jazz favorite pianists: I love all her albums. Highly recommended” FM Urquiza/ Argentina
“Another great album from Lisa.” Bob Osborne/ World of Jazz Podcast
“Hilton continues to impress with every new composition she records. Amazing!” Jazz Zone/Canada
“What our PACIFIC JAZZ station needed: great NEW music for the New Year.” Aloha Joe/PACJAZ
“A modern classic that’s reminiscent of some of the best of the Golden Age of Jazz”. Talking2Musicians | Music Interviews: Blues, Jazz & Beyond”
“beautiful” Lubeck FM/Germany
“Just the thing for our night time jazz slot.” Geoff FM/France
“A new jazz classic! Virtuoso playing with such smoothness & soul! Love it!” KFAI/MN
“Jazz at it’s best.” World Jam Radio/UK
“Very creative. Great ensemble playing. An excellent effort.” WECI Radio/IN
“Hilton has great fluidity in her style of playing. It’s a clear story she tells on those piano keys and most enjoyable.” CFBX Radio/Canada
“Top rate jazz artist”. KTRU Rice University Radio/TX
“Lisa Hilton is both a robust and inventive composer and player, and the quartet is a cohesive and dynamic unit. Great stuff happening here…” WOJB Radio/WI
“Lisa Hilton’s Chalkboard Destiny is a high-energy album. There are many excellent tracks for the listener to become immersed.” 2 BACR Radio/Australia
“Jazz at it best” World Jam Radio/UK
“SUPER!” Locos Por El Jazz Radio/Dominican Republic
“As expected, a fantastic new album from Lisa Hilton! /Radio Z/Germany
“Another great work from one of my favorite pianists.” JazzInMagazine/Pureto Rico
“Our Jazz radio network of stations absolutely love Lisa Hilton and her talent for creating beautiful music!” The Music Korner/PA
“COOL!” Radio MUZKOM/Russia
“Brilliant” Bondi FM/NSW, Australia
“Hilton has great fluidity in her style of playing. It’s a clear story she tells on those piano keys and most enjoyable.” CFBX 92.5 FM/ Jazz On The Rocks Radio Show /Canada
“Hilton has conjured up a modern classic that’s reminiscent of some of the best of the Golden Age of jazz.” Talking2Musicians | Music Interviews: Blues, Jazz & Beyond”
“Lisa Hilton is both a robust and inventive composer and player, and the quartet is a cohesive and dynamic unit. Great stuff happening here…” WOJB FM/WI
“Deep, smooth and lyrical.” The Magazine/Athens, Greece
“Whether up-tempo, bluesy, or romantic, Hilton’s utmost command of nuance and artistic virtuosity carries the day with ease.” Retailing Insights