- SANTA MONICA SAMBA
- RANDOM JOURNEY
- NIGHTINGALES & FAIRY TALES
- LIVING IN LIMBO
- GOD BLESS THE CHILD
- CHROMATIC CHRONICLES
- FALL UPON A MIRACLE
- INFINITE TANGO
- EXTRAORDINARY EVERYDAY THINGS
- TRANSPARENT SKY
As America and other countries re-emerge from the limitations of 2020, Lisa Hilton and her trio with Rudy Royston and Luques Curtis, enthusiastically embrace the moment with a vibrant new jazz offering that will inspire, uplift and motivate us all. Rich with glorious harmonies and unique compositions, Hilton’s swinging band radiates a sun bleached aura to listeners. Throughout the album Hilton, Royston and Curtis develop a surprisingly wide range of rhythmic ideas from a variety of genres, masterfully blending classic traditions with new approaches and upbeat style.
The recording jumps in with the Latin tinged Santa Monica Samba, quickly following with the equally energetic Random Journey on this collection of nine originals, plus one cover. Hilton has a way with ballads, and Nightingales & Fairy Tales is no exception. With its slight nod to Bill Evans in the sixties, this has the making of a jazz classic for a twenty – first century audience.
Living In Limbo, Chromatic Chronicles, Fall Upon a Miracle and Infinite Tango, highlight the multiple creative rhythms of Hilton’s compositions and showcase ample opportunities for Curtis’s agile bass, and the delightful details of Royston’s drums. A cover of God Bless The Child, co-written by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr, is a charmer, and like all the tracks here, is skillfully and originally presented without being forced. Slowing towards the album’s end, Extraordinary Everyday Things is a calm and expressive soundscape. With a surprise twist, Hilton finishes the album with the title track, Transparent Sky as a sonorous piano solo.
Q & A with Lisa Hilton
Q. You, Rudy & Luques recently came out with the acclaimed 2020 release, More Than Another Day. How soon after that were you back in the studio for Transparent Skies?
A. We recorded More Than Another Day in August 2020 and Transparent Skies in May 2021- so about nine months apart. We all had a bit of extra time on our hands since there has not been any touring, so it was wonderfully normal to be playing again! I felt incredibly happy to be together and we had a much better experience than we did last August when we were anxious and awkward wearing masks and staying apart. This year, post vaccines, we could be ourselves and enjoy things. I have been very thankful that More Than Another Day has been so successful – one of the top recordings at Jazz Week so far for 2021 – but it was a bit stressful to create. Transparent Sky is very uplifting and has a lot of energy, so we hope listeners will like this one too.
Q. Is there a concept behind the title?
A. I think the title refers to how many of us are feeling right now: If a sunny sky connotates a good future, and a dark sky represents where humanity was in 2020, Transparent Sky has a sense of taking the moment for what it is – and to cherish what we can here and now. We don’t have any promises for tomorrow, do we? Today looks pretty good though.
Q. There’s a lot of different kinds of swing and movement on this album – was that intentional?
A. I always let the music emerge as I compose: I don’t know what I will create and I don’t try and force a direction or try to control it. What developed was a LOT of movement and richer chords and harmonies this year – which makes sense when you consider how static last year was and how we had less activities – as musicians we need to entertain ourselves too, so I think that’s why I subconsciously wrote in so many rhythm changes and multiple harmonic directions. Then of course, it was great fun to have Luques and Rudy add all their ideas and textures too. Our engineer, Chandler Harrod, did a great job recording and I love hearing all the cool bass and drum ideas on the compositions. This music really gets me moving and I love that!
Q. Is this recording was a new direction for you and your trio?
A. I began working in the direction of splicing different rhythms, genres and eras compositionally with our 2014 album Kaleidoscope. I feel that music of today should have genre mobility – that we prefer multiple ideas and references musically from any era or style and like the colored pieces inside a kaleidoscope, that life/humanity/music is more interesting because of variety. Transparent Sky, my band, and our music are examples of this approach: that beauty in our world is created through inclusion – if there were only red squares in a kaleidoscope, it would have no appeal.
Q. That’s true! Do you bring sheet music scores to the studio or do you just wing it? Do you rehearse?
A. When I first began recording I didn’t use any written scores at all – I just played the tune a couple times and then we recorded – a la the Miles Davis Kind of Blue approach. But I think it’s kinder to have the sheet music, so now I do all the scores ahead of time in Sibelius: being self -taught it took me a while to master notation software, but now it’s fun for me to create the scores – of course there is always room for improvisation too – the scores are more like skeletons for the band to work from. We still don’t rehearse though – jazz has never been about perfection – it’s supposed to be a bit loose and capture the energy of the moment whether it’s partially written or improvised. In classical music you shoot for perfection, but jazz has the energy that anything can happen at any moment, and for jazz lovers we find that much more engaging and dynamic.
Q. You included the cover God Bless The Child that was popularized and sung by Billie Holiday. Tell us about that selection please.
A. For a long time I’ve been trying to record cover songs by women who were composers, because there is very little attention paid to them in jazz – they are normally identified as singers or instrumentalists. I’ve recorded tunes by Joni Mitchell, Ann Ronnell and Janis Joplin, and I was surprised that I hadn’t even realized that Billie Holiday had written/co-written several songs. She is one of the most well – known and enduring jazz recording artists, yet we seem to know a lot more about her love affairs and drug habits than we do about her talents, right?
Q. That’s true! Did she write God Bless The Child?
A. Yes, she was the co-writer with Arthur Herzog Jr. I’ve read two books and seen a movie about Billie Holiday, and they never highlighted the fact she was a composer! I don’t even think her Wikipedia bio notes her songwriting and when I went to license the song for our album, it could only be searched under the co-writer’s name not hers. I think it’s important to give women recognition for all for their talents, and by promoting these talents maybe we will see less discrimination in jazz/classical/opera music. Thankfully we see more women as bandleaders, producers, instrumentalists and recording engineers, but performing arts centers, opera houses and jazz clubs around the world are still almost entirely focused on presenting music of male composers. Billie Holiday should be recognized for her skills as a songwriter – it’s a great tune!
Transparent Sky is available for pre-order August 3rd, 2021 and out Sept 3rd, 2021.
#1 AMAZON.COM NEW RELEASE/COOL JAZZ first week on sale
TOP TEN LIST DEC/2020: #3 More Than Another Day PhilsPicks.com
#5 Jazz Week Jazz Chart –multiple weeks
“Hilton is an inheritor/successor to the mantle of Erroll Garner: classy, intelligent and accessible without bowing to commercial-type compromise.” New York Jazz Record/Mark Keresman
“It’s a sophisticated, yet engagingly accessible sound that brings to mind the classic work of artists like Vince Guaraldi, Dave Brubeck and Ramsey Lewis….swinging acoustic jazz.” Matt Collar/All Music Guide
“In a few instances, the compositions written for More Than Another Day are absolutely breath-taking. Hilton has a way of injecting such warmth into her left hand that, no matter what sort of piece the pianist tackles, she leaves behind a sense of delicate intimacy not found in the repertoire of other artists.” Peter J. Hoetjes/All About Jazz
“Wonderful music…vibrant…spilling over with cheer, hope and serious jazz chops…each track percolates…unadulterated exhilaration..mesmerizing…intoxicating…” Jazz Medium/Carol Banks Weber
“Impressions of color and depth.” Jazz Weekly
“A smoking trio date, but what it really is, is a tour de force for her piano chops to really walk the walk. The kind of classic sound/feeling date that first got you into jazz piano trio sets, this might appear simple but that doesn’t stop it from being as tasty as it gets. Hot stuff.” The MidwestRecord
“The trio is perfect…another solid collection of very memorable, interesting compositions… in the performance, there is a sense of optimism in every note here.” Jazz Squared/Russia
“A year-end gift to aficionados everywhere.” Mike Jurkovich/All About Jazz
“More Than Another Day is an exceptional offering that ranks at the top of Hilton’s repertoire. It gives the listener the complete picture of her masterful talents as a pianist, composer and bandleader, in addition to offering nearly an hour of awesome entertainment.” Sounds of Timeless Jazz
“Yet another compelling effort. These are a fresh set of Hilton’s tunes that have an easily embraceable warmth. There’s a touch of blues and several beautiful ballads over ten selections.” O’s Place Jazz Magazine
“Hilton has a clear vision of how she wants to sound as she beautifully plays the Steinway…her piano sound is lush, delicate and highly melodic…. A rich balance of emotions and harmonic colors as well.” Glide Magazine/Jim Hynes
“Hilton’s elegant piano and the profound dynamism-filled rhythm create beautiful melodic piano trio works”. Vento Azul /Japan
“This quite compelling new album – one that showcases the creative range of Hilton and her trio…an album that not only uplifts the soul and spirit within the listener, but ensures they are also given a breath of fresh air in which to continue….” Exclusive Magazine
“A refined and organic pianist….lyrically and harmoniously engaging.” Windout Magazine/Italy
“This quite compelling new album…an album that only uplifts the soul and spirit within the listener.” Exclusive Magazine
“I’m always glad to listen to Lisa Hilton!” Aiding & Abetting blog
“Delightful music with some twists. Where has Lisa been hiding! Now that I have found her, I want to hear more.” CKHA/Canada
“I always enjoy Lisa Hilton’s trio albums, and More Than Another Day is one of the best. I’m honored to share her music with my audience”. Mike Chimeri, host of Instrumental Invasion, WCWP-FM
“Good stuff!” WXPN/BluesNet Radio/PA
“Lisa Hilton’s original compositions continue to get better and better. Her trio with Rudy Royston & Luques Curtis deliver a wonderful and listenable journey of music.” Kayonne Riley-WUCF/FL
“Amazing!” The Network Radio/Italy
“More Than Another Day’ fits right in with the sound of our station. I really like what’s she’s done on this project” Jaelon Jackson-KNTU/TX
“Easy going music. Perfect fit for drivetime airplay.” Jonathan Turner-WXTS/OH
“Attention grabbing!” KVNF Radio
“Love the playful, whimsical spirit…” Outsight Radio/NC
“From upbeat, tight, pulsing to ethereal, evocative, gymnopedie like: always pleasing.”CILU/Canada
“It’s always a pleasure to listen to Lisa Hilton’s piano! And thank you to Luques Curtis & Rudy Royston.” Radio Arc-en-Ciel 103.4 FM /France
“I always look forward to a Lisa Hilton release.” CIWS/Canada
“Lovely!” Villa Bota Radio/Belgium
“Real nice set of tracks.” CJSW/CANADA
“Another excellent album from the great jazz lady of the piano. I like it!!!!!” FM Urquiza /Argentina
“Great piano playing especially with the trio.” CKSJ Coast 101.1FM/NL
“Good album!” Urban Jazz Radio
“A Lisa Hilton album is always a treat & especially welcomed during these dark days.”SINE FM/UK
“Gentle, swinging & with a hint of whimsy. Another fine recording.” Just Jazz/New Zealand
“Beautiful!” Good Ratio Music / Germany
“As always, a great, rich sound.” WMWM/ MA
“So super!!!!” Free FM / Greece
“Lisa Hilton never disappoints, and on the contrary, manages to surprise…, combining freshness & vivacity with poetry… rich in a preciousness that confirms the value of the pianist.”Animajazz/Italy
“Another great work by Lisa. Unusual & inspiring mix of songs played by a tight, wonderful trio.” 2MBS NSW, Australia
“Great vibes on this one.” K107 FM/UK
“REAL GOOD!” Radio MUZKOM/Russia