Laced with a pulsating West Coast cool energy, the award-winning composer and acclaimed pianist Lisa K. Hiltons’, recordings are imbued with subtle historical references from a wide variety of genres and eras, sounding distinctly twenty-first century and uniquely of her own style. Her compositional inspirations do spring from jazz legends Thelonious Monk, Count Basie, Horace Silver and Duke Ellington, but they also include her favorite bluesmen, Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson, touches of minimalism from the likes Steve Reich, rhythmic swatches from modernists such as Prokofiev and Bartok or chords from rockers like The Black Keys or Green Day – they all hold sway in Hilton’s imagination when she composes.
Originally from a small town on California’s central coast, Hilton studied classical and twentieth-century piano formally from the age of eight, where she was inspired by her great uncle, Willem Bloemendall, (1910-1937), a Dutch piano virtuoso. Hilton accompanied on the 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.
In college though, due to the lack of creativity in the music program, she dropped out, switching majors and receiving a degree in art instead. Since becoming a professional musician though, this background in the arts has informed Hilton’s composition process noting that she “paints” her compositions with harmonic washes and then “sculpts” them with textural and rhythmic ideas. 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 made to the legendary Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck, but Hilton’s compositions are also considered to be reminiscent of musical impressionists such as Claude Debussy and Erik Satie.
Hilton has performed at venues across the US from the legendary Carnegie Hall to Chicago’s historic Green Mill and is known her expressive technique at the piano as well as for her warmth and storytelling on stage. Over a career that has lasted several years, Hilton has worked with many of todays’ living jazz legends such as JD Allen, Rudy Royston, Larry Grenadier, Terell Stafford, Christian McBride, Sean Jones, Billy Hart, Marcus Gilmore, Nasheet Waits and others. Her latest recording, OASIS was recorded with Luques Curtis on bass and Mark Whitfield Jr. on drums. With her high-profile band mates, Hilton continues producing an album a year through her publishing company, Lisa Hilton Music. Her deep catalog of compositions is now nearing 300 recorded tracks – and her releases annually receiving strong support from radio and acclaim from critics around the world.