Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

69

Lisa Hilton: Lisa Hilton: American Impressions

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Lisa Hilton

American Impressions

Self Produced

2012

The last few years have seen the release of significant jazz recordings celebrating Americana. The majority of these have been devoted to jazz vocals and include: Jacqui Sutton's novel "Frontier Jazz" concept as manifested on her 2010 release Billie & Dolly (Toy Blue Typewriter Productions), Laurie Antonioli's rugged and rustic Midwestern soundscape on American Dream (Intrinsic Music, 2010), and Tierney Sutton's bold and uncompromising New World vista American Road (BMF, 2011). Other singers, like Carter Calvert and the Roger Cohen Trio, make a nod toward the creative American spirit, as she did with her stunning "Motherless Child"/"Washing of the Water" pairing from Carter Calvert and the Roger Cohen Trio (Self Produced, 2012).

Pianist and composer Lisa Hilton issues forth with a collection of mostly original instrumental compositions that present a song cycle without words. American Impressions is a suite presenting the distilled spirits of Gottschalk, MacDowell, Ives, Copland, Gershwin, Bernstein, Glass, Goldsmith, Williams and Newman. On this recording, Hilton's pianism is more firmly rooted in the rhythmic and harmonic metaphysics of the American classical repertoire than in jazz. More specifically, Hilton has a very potent soundtrack touch in her composing that gives her music a panoramic texture. It is the rest of her fine quartet—saxophonist JD Allen, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Nasheet Waits who ground the jazz in the pieces. The listenability of these pieces is as seamless as the music of George Winston with greater artistic sincerity and emotional depth.

The disc opens with a full quartet performance of the original "Too Hot" where Hilton establishes a thermal-induced langor with a simple two-chord modulation and a slightly dissonant and nervous theme. The tempo reflects the heat of the title. Allen's tenor saxophone is eerily reminiscent of John Coltrane without the harsh tone. Allen's accompaniment part sounds specifically arranged, not unlike what Gil Evans provided Coltrane on trumpeter Miles Davis' 'Round About Midnight (Columbia, 1957). It is simple, unadorned and elegant, light and ethereal. "The Anatomy of the Blues" is, as the title describes, a scaffolding to behold. It begins with Hilton filling the air with low notes propelled by Waits' insistent drumming. Allen emerges, again like Coltrane whisping out the the miasma as he did on "Acknowledgement" from A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1965) or on "Impressions." Again, Allen does not copy Coltrane, but does summon his spirit and place in this American landscape.

Hilton mines deep and wide, refining her results as she plays. The briskly-paced "Subway" recalls Philip Glass' minimalism in a two-note left hand modulation while the right hand summons a contrasting complex of ideas. On the original "Accidental Romance" crosses a Gershwin introduction with a Randy Newman film whimsy—think the soundtrack to Ragtime (Paramount Pictures, 1981) meets Porgy and Bess (1935). The two "standards" are Joni Mitchell's "Rainy Night House," which maintains fully its folk-pop potency while gaining gravity in Hilton's low-register playing, while Duke Ellington's "Echoes of Harlem" tools along on an inventive left-hand figure that interestingly seems to take the piece out of the jazz realm and into something else altogether. Hilton's approach captures Americana while it is not looking, resulting in a satisfying product.



Tracks: 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.

Track Listing:

Personnel: Musician Name #1: instrument; Musician Name #2: instrument; Musician Name #3: instrument.

Title: Lisa Hilton: American Impressions | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981 Extended Analysis Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981
by Doug Collette
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Love, Gloom, Cash, Love Extended Analysis Love, Gloom, Cash, Love
by Patrick Burnette
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Motel Shot: Expanded Edition Extended Analysis Motel Shot: Expanded Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: July 16, 2017
Read Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe  Edition Extended Analysis Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th...
by Doug Collette
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "The Rascals: The Complete Singles A's & B's" Extended Analysis The Rascals: The Complete Singles A's & B's
by Doug Collette
Published: April 1, 2017
Read "Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981" Extended Analysis Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981
by Doug Collette
Published: November 19, 2017
Read "Alex Cline's Flower Garland Orchestra: Oceans of Vows" Extended Analysis Alex Cline's Flower Garland Orchestra: Oceans of Vows
by John Kelman
Published: March 23, 2017
Read "Charlie Watts Meets the Danish Radio Big Band" Extended Analysis Charlie Watts Meets the Danish Radio Big Band
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 3, 2017
Read "Jazz Is Phsh: He Never Spoke A Word" Extended Analysis Jazz Is Phsh: He Never Spoke A Word
by Doug Collette
Published: March 3, 2017