50

Lisa Hilton: American Impressions

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Lisa Hilton: American Impressions Complacency can threaten to creep into a musician's being without their knowledge as time passes, but the opposite seems to have happened with pianist/composer Lisa Hilton. Her early records dealt in friendly pastel colors delivered in relatively safe fashion, but she's become more daring as time has passed. Her playing has become more limber, loose, organic, fearless and moody, and her music has benefited from this growth, as it now possesses a greater balance between shadows and light.

Hilton hit a major turning point with Underground (Ruby Slippers Productions, 2011), which found her in good, risk-taking company, and she wisely reconvened the same band to record American Impressions. Saxophonist JD Allen's emotive tenor, Nasheet Waits brilliantly textural and unpredictable drumming and bassist Larry Grenadier's warmth and consistency meld with Hilton's piano to create an engrossing travelogue through the American consciousness.

Few things are more distinctly American than train songs and Duke Ellington, and Hilton does both justice before she's through. "Subway" takes the train theme to new places, as it deals with an appropriately subterranean hustle and bustle propelled by the leader's continuously seesawing line and Waits' broken patterns, while Ellington's "Echoes of Harlem" seduces as it moves atop Grenadier's carousel of a bass line.

Hilton is neither patriotic nor genre specific as she works her way through aural paintings of life scenes, but the sounds still speak to the very idea of the American experience. Bluesy undercurrents and battles between optimism and pessimism or consonance and dissonance are everywhere, but positivity and idealism win out in the end ("American Suite"). Along the way, the band moves from parched moodiness ("Too Hot") to floating elegance ("When It Rains") to gray-streaked, late night settings ("Slow Down") and most of the pictures are far from rosy.

Hilton understands that America is more than cornfields and beaches and she achieves greatness by reaching into dark corners and under-explored avenues. American Impressions presents rich slices of uncensored scenery filtered through the mind of a true original at the top of her game.

Track Listing: Too Hot; Anatomy Of The Blues; When It Rains; Subway; Accidental Romance; Rainy Night House; Waterfall; Slow Down; Underground; Echoes Of Harlem; Don't Stop; American Suite.

Personnel: Lisa Hilton: piano; J.D. Allen: tenor saxophone; Nasheet Waits: drums; Larry Grenadier: bass.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Ruby Slippers Productions


Shop

More Articles

Read Welcome to Swingsville! CD/LP/Track Review Welcome to Swingsville!
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Points of View CD/LP/Track Review Points of View
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Migration Blues CD/LP/Track Review Migration Blues
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 26, 2017
Read N.O. Escape CD/LP/Track Review N.O. Escape
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Reflections CD/LP/Track Review Reflections
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 25, 2017
Read "Apprentice" CD/LP/Track Review Apprentice
by Alex Franquelli
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "Acceptance" CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Jim Olin
Published: June 30, 2016
Read "Clockwise: The Music Of Cedar Walton" CD/LP/Track Review Clockwise: The Music Of Cedar Walton
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "Zentuary" CD/LP/Track Review Zentuary
by John Kelman
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "Morning Glory" CD/LP/Track Review Morning Glory
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 8, 2016
Read "Beauty Within" CD/LP/Track Review Beauty Within
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 1, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!