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 titled Transparent Sky, 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. “What developed this year was a LOT of movement and richer chords and harmonies – which makes sense when you consider how static last year was. As musicians, we need to challenge and also entertain ourselves, so I think that’s why I subconsciously wrote in so many rhythm changes and multiple harmonic directions,” says Hilton. “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.
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. In the same vein, 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. “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. I think it’s important to give women recognition for their range of talents, and by promoting them, maybe we will see less discrimination in music”, Hilton muses.
Slowing towards the album’s end, “Extraordinary Everyday Things” is a calm and expressive soundscape, but with a surprise twist, Hilton finishes up with the title track, “Transparent Sky” as a sonorous piano solo. “The melody is beautiful and has a bit of swing, but the harmonic ideas are quite chromatic and dissonant with overlapping/lingering sonorities between bar lines.” She says. “This piece needs to be played sensitively or it will sound harsh, but that is like our lives today – we are living in sensitive times and need to be aware of how we connect and communicate. The solo piano clearly delivers those delicate harmonies along with the emotions. It’s about accepting our world as it is, whatever may be happening at that moment. Tomorrow will bring what it will, but there is still beauty to be found if we look for it, amid the dissonance of our times.” Hilton explains.
Lisa Hilton’s new album, Transparent Sky, is available everywhere on September 3rd, 2021.
About Lisa Hilton
Lisa Kristine Hilton is a distinctive composer of jazz, an acclaimed pianist, bandleader, and producer. Growing up in a small town on California’s central coast, she originally taught herself to play piano with a colored keyboard guide, writing her first simple songs around six years, before beginning studies in classical and twentieth-century music starting at the age of eight. In college, she switched majors from music and graduated instead with a degree in art. This art background informs her musical creations: she describes “painting” compositions using improvisation, and harmony or “sculpting” with multiple rhythmic ideas from different cultures. Hilton’s music draws on classical traditions, and twentieth-century modernists as well as classic American jazz greats such as Cole Porter, Thelonious Monk, and Horace Silver, as well as blues heroes Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. Hilton’s music annually tops the jazz charts and appears on popular shows such as Apple Music’s Pure Jazz Playlist. In the book, “The New Face of Jazz: An Intimate Look at Today’s Living Legends and Artists of Tomorrow” by Cicily Janus, states that Hilton has been “compared to some of the best pianists in history.” Noting that the overwhelming majority of music performed in jazz clubs and concert halls today are of compositions written by male musicians, Hilton is outspoken about the importance of presenting and listening, to music composed by women in these fields as well.