There was "The Dream Team, a collection of NBA players who filled most of the slots on the USA basketball team for the 1992 Olympics. Then there was "the dream team, high-priced lawyers who helped O.J. Simpson get acquitted of murder charges. For Lisa Hilton, the dream team is made up of four jazz musicians who joined the pianist/composer/producer for her ninth release, New York Sessions.
A product of Southern California, Hilton drew some inspiration from her great-uncle, a respected Dutch pianist. As a child, she also listened to her mother play standards on the family piano. Hilton taught herself to play, using a colored keyboard guide. She began writing almost immediately, evolving from simple tunes to blues riffs. As a bandleader, Hilton has been joined by several established jazz musicians, including bassist Christian McBride, drummer Lewis Nash, flutist Bobby Militello, saxophonist Steve Wilson and trumpet/flugelhorn specialist Jeremy Pelt. All but Militello form the New York Sessions dream team.
The album begins and ends with covers of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now the first a tranquil, ambient selection that's accented by Nash's cymbals and McBride's subtle bass; the second, subtitled "Alternate Take, offers more of the same but is perhaps more engaging emotionally.
"Just Want to Be With You, one of seven Hilton originals, is a charming piece that features Wilson and Pelt out front. Hilton is mostly in the background with Nash and McBride. The quintet delivers a bluesy swing with Ray Charles' "A Bit of Soul. Hilton injects a bit of ragtime in her playing. Wilson and Pelt again carry most of the lead, injecting a taste of Dixieland.
"Enjoying the outdoors on a cool, sunny day might be the answer to another Hilton original, "Where Are You Now? This carefree tune features Wilson on the soprano sax and Pelt on flugelhorn.
At times slow and easy, at times delightful and upbeat, New York Sessions is a pleasant listen throughout. Hilton mixes a few jazz standards with contemporary melodies. Inspired by a visit to Manhattan, the album is both a tribute to The Big Apple and a showcase for the musical talent found within the city.
Both Sides Now; Over and Over Again; Just Want to Be With You; A Bit of Soul; Emily; Seduction; The Last Time; Where Are You Now?; Listen to Your Heart; Epistrophy; Mystery; Both Sides Now (alternative take).
Lisa Hilton: piano; Christian McBride: bass; Lewis Nash: drums; Jeremy Pelt: trumpet and flugelhorn; Steve Wilson: sax.
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