Lisa Hilton (musician)

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Lisa Hilton
Lisa-Hilton-Live-BW.jpg
Hilton at the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood
Photo: Ron Hall
Background information
Birth nameLisa Kristine Hilton
BornSan Luis Obispo, California, U.S.
GenresJazz, Post-Bop jazz, classical
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, record producer, band-leader
InstrumentsPiano
Years active1997–present
LabelsRuby Slippers, EvoSound
Associated actsAntonio Sánchez, Larry Grenadier, J. D. Allen, Terrell Stafford
Websitewww.lisahiltonmusic.com

Lisa Kristine Hilton is an American jazz pianist, bandleader, producer, and composer[1] based in Southern California. Hilton's post-bop compositions are considered to be highly impressionistic and expressive.[2][3] Hilton is considered a prolific composer with close to 300 compositions published to date. For over a decade she has been producing an album a year of instrumental compositions which blend traditional American jazz and blues with minimalism, classical, and avant-garde music.[4] Since the early 2000s she has recorded with Antonio Sánchez, Larry Grenadier, Christian McBride,[5] and Sean Jones.[6]

Early years[edit]

Hilton was born in San Luis Obispo, a small town on California's central coast. Her father was a college professor and her mother was an accountant.[7] At approximately the age of six, she began playing piano, first teaching herself to play with a colored keyboard guide and composing simple songs.[8] Later she was inspired by stories of her great uncle, Dutch pianist Willem Bloemendaal. Although her early years were dominated by classical music and 20th-century music study,[9] in her teens she became interested in jazz and blues.[10] Seeing the blues duo Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee in concert had a lasting impact, as did the music of Jelly Roll Morton, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters. She played 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. The daughter of a biology professor, she values nature and brings it into her compositions, as in the titles "Vapors & Shadows" from Oasis, "Mojave Moon" from Escapism, and "Sunset on the Beach" from Day and Night.

Hilton moved to San Francisco and studied piano with Carlo Bussotti[11] but dropped out due to disappointment with the program.[12] As a college student who studied art, she put music aside to complete a degree in art and design. After returning to music, she was drawn to jazz. She often mentions that she draws on her background in art to create compositions, painting and sculpting her compositions with ideas from music.[13]

Return to the piano[edit]

In 1997, Hilton's interest in music was reignited by a neighbor, pianist David Foster.[14] She resumed her studies in theory and composition with composer Charles Bernstein at UCLA. Her first album, Seduction (1997), was solo piano. Since then she has recorded about one album a year. The albums include cover tunes by musicians such as Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, and Ann Ronell.

Hilton began working in 2005 with engineer Al Schmitt. They have continued working together, with Doug Sax, Gavin Lurssen, Fernando Lodeiro, Larry Mah, and James Farber. She has produced every album and has been a voting member of the Producers and Engineers Wing of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) since 2003.

Compositions[edit]

Hilton has received acclaim for her compositions. She cites Thelonious Monk,[15] Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Horace Silver[16] as her most important compositional influences. Hilton uses improvisation, free jazz, and shifting modal key centers for impressionistic compositions like "When it Rains."[17] Her arrangements, at times, pairs jazz with classical piano, with a "lofty sophistication reminiscent of classic piano music from Beethoven, Chopin, or Stravinsky."[18] She use ideas from other art forms. "French composers like Debussy used harmonic 'impressisonism,' but I like to use improvisational ideas in an impressionistic way," she told Phil Freeman of Burning Ambulance. "Seurat's pointillism technique is something I have applied to music, for example." "Music feels like my first language," she added. "It feels like I can create an experience compositionally that allows others to also feel that experience, much like a good writer being able to describe love, or a painter or photographer creating an image. I think I can compose and play the sound of twilight, of a warm summer's day, of love or grief, of a subway or dolphins even. I think of my – and our – music as abstract or non-figurative paintings."[19] Hilton ventures into longer musical forms, fusing jazz onto classical forms, as in "Midnight Sonata" from her album Nocturnal.[20]

Compositions[edit]

Hilton has received acclaim for her compositions. She cites Thelonious Monk,[21] Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Horace Silver[22] as her most important compositional influences. Hilton uses improvisation, free jazz, and shifting modal key centers for impressionistic compositions like "When it Rains."[23] She use ideas from other art forms. "French composers like Debussy used harmonic 'impressisonism,' but I like to use improvisational ideas in an impressionistic way," she told Phil Freeman of Burning Ambulance. "Seurat's pointillism technique is something I have applied to music, for example." "Music feels like my first language," she added. "It feels like I can create an experience compositionally that allows others to also feel that experience, much like a good writer being able to describe love, or a painter or photographer creating an image. I think I can compose and play the sound of twilight, of a warm summer's day, of love or grief, of a subway or dolphins even. I think of my – and our – music as abstract or non-figurative paintings."[24] Hilton ventures into longer musical forms, fusing jazz onto classical forms, as in "Midnight Sonata" from her album Nocturnal.[25] On Escapism her arrangements paired modern jazz modalities and classical techniques with a "lofty sophistication reminiscent of classic piano music from Beethoven, Chopin, or Stravinsky."[26]

Later life and career[edit]

As a bandleader, Hilton has worked with bassists Christian McBride, Luques Curtis, and Larry Grenadier, drummers Antonio Sanchez. Nasheet Waits and Lewis Nash, trumpeters Sean Jones and Terrell Stafford, and saxophonists J. D. Allen, Steve Wilson, Brice Winston, and Bobby Militello.[27]

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 include the legendary Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck, but Hilton’s compositions are also considered to be reminiscent of musical impressionism inspired by musicians such as Claude Debussy and Erik Satie.[28]

Publishing[edit]

Inspired by Joni Mitchell,[29] Hilton started a publishing company that was trademarked Lisa Hilton Music. Her record label, Ruby Slippers Productions, was established in 2001. She is a voting member of National Music Publishers Association.

Personal life and influences[edit]

For over twenty years, Hilton has lived in Malibu, California, the adopted home of Stan Getz, Joe Zawinul, Miles Davis, Herb Alpert, and Johnny Mandel. She has often said that the mountains, waterfalls, and beaches inspire her compositions, such as "The Sky and the Ocean" from Horizons.[30]

Work with the blind and visually-impaired[edit]

Acting on her belief that young musicians will build a new generation of jazz traditions, Hilton works to support music programs for children and teens, particularly those that are blind or visually-impaired. She has performed benefit concerts, conducted workshops and played with young musicians at the historic Perkins School for the Blind,[31] near Boston, The Chicago Lighthouse[32] for People Who are Blind or Visually Impaired, the Junior Blind of America and their Camp Bloomfield in Malibu, and the Adaptive Technology Lab at Berklee College of Music in Boston, among other youth-oriented programs.

Discography[edit]

  • Seduction (Ruby Slippers, 1997)
  • Playing by Heart (Ruby Slippers, 1999)
  • Cocktails at Eight... (Ruby Slippers, 2000)
  • Feeling Good (Ruby Slippers, 2001)
  • In the Mood for Jazz (Ruby Slippers, 2003)
  • Jazz After Hours (Ruby Slippers, 2004)
  • My Favorite Things (Ruby Slippers, 2005)
  • Midnight in Manhattan (Ruby Slippers, 2006)
  • After Dark (Ruby Slippers, 2007)
  • The New York Sessions (Ruby Slippers, 2007)
  • So This Is Love (Ruby Slippers, 2008)
  • Sunny Day Theory (Ruby Slippers, 2008)
  • Twilight & Blues (Ruby Slippers, 2009)
  • Nuance (Ruby Slippers, 2010)
  • Underground (Ruby Slippers, 2011)
  • American Impressions (Ruby Slippers, 2012)
  • Getaway (Ruby Slippers, 2013)
  • Kaleidoscope (Ruby Slippers, 2014)
  • Horizons (Ruby Slippers, 2015)
  • Nocturnal (Ruby Slippers, 2016)
  • Day & Night (Ruby Slippers, 2016)
  • Escapism (Ruby Slippers, 2017)
  • Oasis (Ruby Slippers, 2018)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lisa Hilton to Release New Album "Nuance" June 8th". All About Jazz. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
  2. ^ Stober, Karl. "Twilight & Blues by Lisa Hilton". Jazz Review. Retrieved 16 March 2009.
  3. ^ "Lisa Hilton in Concert". JuniorBlind.org. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  4. ^ "Lisa Hilton". Jazztimes. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  5. ^ Freeman, Phil. "Interview: Lisa Hilton". Burning Ambulance. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  6. ^ Weber, Carol Banks. "Lisa Hilton's 'H O R I Z O N S': Ultimate expression of art in jazz impressions". axs.com.
  7. ^ "Lisa Hilton". All About Jazz. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  8. ^ Wilkins, Woodrow. "Lisa Hilton: New York Sessions". All About Jazz. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  9. ^ Plourde, Brenton. "Lisa Hilton, Twilight and Blues". JazzTimes. Retrieved 3 January 2010.
  10. ^ Mullikin, Patrick Timothy. "malibu's music corner: 'Twilight & Blues'". Malibu Times. Retrieved 2 September 2009.
  11. ^ Squatriglia, Chuck. "Carlo Bussotti -- renowned concert pianist". sfgate.com. SF Gate. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  12. ^ "Alum Lisa Hilton to Perform at Pepperdine University". San Francisco State University.
  13. ^ Freeman, Phil. "Interview: Lisa Hilton". Burning Ambulance.
  14. ^ Stober, Karl. "Between Sets with Lisa Hilton... A Diamond Sculpted from Ivory". Jazz Review. Retrieved 1 February 2006.
  15. ^ "Meet Lisa Hilton". All About Jazz. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Lisa Hilton". Jazztimes. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  17. ^ Montague, Joe. "Jazz Composer and Pianist Lisa Hilton: Dolphins, Waterfalls and American Impressions". Riveting Riffs. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  18. ^ Susan, Frances. "Music Review: Lisa Hilton - 'Escapism'". seattlepi.com. SeattlePI. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  19. ^ Freeman, Phil. "Interview: Burning Ambulance". Burning Ambulance. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  20. ^ "USA: Lisa Hilton (Nocturnal) 2016". World Jazz News. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  21. ^ "Meet Lisa Hilton". All About Jazz. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  22. ^ "Lisa Hilton". Jazztimes. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  23. ^ Montague, Joe. "Jazz Composer and Pianist Lisa Hilton: Dolphins, Waterfalls and American Impressions". Riveting Riffs. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  24. ^ Freeman, Phil. "Interview: Burning Ambulance". Burning Ambulance. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  25. ^ "USA: Lisa Hilton (Nocturnal) 2016". World Jazz News. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  26. ^ Susan, Frances. "Music Review: Lisa Hilton - 'Escapism'". seattlepi.com. SeattlePI. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  27. ^ Lush, Brian. "All I Have Is Blue". Rockwired Media LLC. Retrieved 16 March 2009.
  28. ^ Janus, Cicily (July 13, 2010). The New Face of Jazz (1st ed.). New York, NY: Billboard Books. p. 116. ISBN 978-0823000654.
  29. ^ "Sony/Atv Music Publishing And Joni Mitchell Enter into Worldwide Agreement". JoniMitchell.com.
  30. ^ Vejar, Alex. "Resident music composer to return to Pepperdine for performance". Malibu Surfside News. 22nd Century Media.
  31. ^ Archer, Carol. "Composer, Jazz Pianist Lisa Hilton To Perform at Perkins School". Dun & Bradstreet. Retrieved 20 November 2006.
  32. ^ Walseth, Brad. "Jazz Pianist shows big Heart in Working with Blind Musicians". Jazz Chicago. Retrieved 8 January 2007.

External links[edit]