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Lisa Hilton: Chalkboard Destiny

Doug Hall By

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Not surprisingly, considering the political and social climate existing on the threshold of 2020, pianist and composer Lisa Hilton finds ripe inspiration for material on Chalkboard Destiny. Addressing the point, she writes: "Our future, our destiny, can be continually reshaped—we are not beholden by history or traditional myths, allowing us a freedom in creation." With a stellar line-up of musicians, including JD Allen on tenor sax, Rudy Royston on drums and Luques Curtis on bass, Hilton is set to begin touring in the 2020 to feature this release.

On the title cut, Hilton's phrasing and upbeat tempo creates an energy and vibrancy that defies category: it rocks but is also jazzy, which follows her observation that "we can re-write our history." On another stand-out cut, "Rush Hour Rhapsody," Curtis enters with a driving back-bone lead that Hilton picks-up and soars with, adding cascades of free flowing notes producing wonderful changes in mood. Allen's tenor sax kicks-in to add more tempo, and a samba-beat that's ready for dancing. Slowing down the tempo to a sultry mood and swing, Hilton's "Sympathy for the Blues" has her beginning with a bluesy entry and then Allen heats-up with a John Coltrane-style lead on sax with heavy runs of be-bop. Royston accompanies on drums with flourishes, jazzy rolls and punctuation. As a compliment to the faster tempos of other cuts, Hilton offers a soft and poignant rendition of Joni Mitchell's "Blue Boy."

As a native and long-term resident of southern California, Hilton attributes an environmental influence on her playing and recordings. In a recent interview, she pointed out a string of famous jazz musicians who at some point in their career were also centered in southern California and more specifically Malibu. She raises the connection between physical surroundings and musical style with reference to Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock and Joe Zawinul, who all chose to reside in this area for a time.

Hilton's influences range across a wide territory including Frédéric Chopin, Brad Mehldau and Joni Mitchell. With this album she shows again that exploration pays off. "I think artistically it's a fertile time," she says. "I think you can hear a blend of jazz traditions performed within a new context on the album."

Track Listing: Rush Hour Rhapsody; Sympathy for Blues; Chalkboard Destiny; Temporary Lullaby; Blue Boy; Tropic of Tango; Waltz from Nowhere; Myths & Fantasy; Café Au Mojo; Adventures & Alibis.

Personnel: Lisa Hilton: piano; JD Allen: tenor saxophone; Rudy Royston: drums; Luques Curtis: bass.

Title: Chalkboard Destiny | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Ruby Slippers Productions

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