All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

118

Lisa Hilton: Underground

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
In the minds of some musicians and fans, music is meant to be an athletic competition where speed and strength trump everything else, but a large segment of audiences and performers don't buy into that line of thinking. Others believe that music can be a vehicle for expressing emotions and dealing in the art of communication, and pianist Lisa Hilton's Underground embodies those very ideals.

Hilton's music has never been of the chops-heavy variety, but the California-based pianist/composer is a masterful mood-setter and a conceptualist nonpareil. While earlier albums in her discography occasionally painted sunny pictures, in keeping with stereotypes that often surround West Coast jazz musicians, Underground is a darker production that proves to be her strongest outing yet.

Hilton has always surrounded herself with the cream of the crop, with musicians like bassist Christian McBride, drummer Lewis Nash and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt appearing on previous albums, but the personnel on Underground suits her better than any group she's used before. Bassist Larry Grenadier is the lynchpin of this band, and tenor saxophonist JD Allen brings an understated intensity to the music. While Hilton has worked with both men before, drummer Nasheet Waits is new to the fold, and he brings a sense of the unknown into her world. Hilton's go-to drummer in the past—neo-traditionalist taste maker Lewis Nash—is certainly one of the finest players around, but Waits' willingness to paint outside the lines helps to take Hilton's music in more adventurous directions. His jittery stick work and broken rhythms manage to simultaneously contradict and complement her piano playing.

A unified sense of sound and purpose is carried across the entire album, but Hilton's music isn't unidirectional. Choppy lines and cross-rhythmic conversations come into focus as the album begins ("Underground"), but a dirge-like, bluesy sensibility surrounds other songs ("Boston+Blues"). While dark hues appear throughout the album in various forms, "Jack & Jill" is bright as can be. This particular blues number is worry-free music, and it's book-ended by cheery sounds that could serve as the soundtrack to a silent film scene. Elsewhere, Hilton nods toward Bill Evans ("B Minor Waltz"), deals in cathartic musical expressions with some help from Allen ("Blue Truth"), and delivers a chordal feast for the ears ("Someday, Somehow, Soon").

On Underground, Lisa Hilton and her simpatico ensemble explore all of these pieces to the fullest extent, digging below the surface to reach the emotional core that lies beneath.

Track Listing: Underground; Boston+Blues; Jack & Jill; Someday, Somehow, Soon; Just A Little Past Midnight; B Minor Waltz; Blue Truth; Come & Go; Someday, Somehow, Soon (Extended Take).

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

Title: Underground | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Ruby Slippers Productions

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Bailey's Bundles
CD/LP/Track Review
Take Five With...
CD/LP/Track Review
Take Five With...
CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
Read more articles
Escapism

Escapism

Ruby Slippers Productions
2017

buy
Day & Night

Day & Night

Ruby Slippers Productions
2016

buy
Horizons

Horizons

Ruby Slippers Productions
2015

buy
Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope

Ruby Slippers Productions
2014

buy
Getaway

Getaway

Ruby Slippers Productions
2013

buy
American Impressions

American Impressions

Ruby Slippers Productions
2012

buy

Related Articles

Read Dirt...And More Dirt CD/LP/Track Review
Dirt...And More Dirt
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Brother Raymond CD/LP/Track Review
Brother Raymond
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Frescalalto CD/LP/Track Review
Frescalalto
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Motion CD/LP/Track Review
Motion
by Geannine Reid
Published: May 22, 2018
Read El Duende CD/LP/Track Review
El Duende
by Chris Mosey
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Vol II CD/LP/Track Review
Vol II
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 21, 2018
Read "Dreams" CD/LP/Track Review Dreams
by Jerome Wilson
Published: January 7, 2018
Read "Light Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Light Blue
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 10, 2018
Read "Cheers" CD/LP/Track Review Cheers
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 2, 2018
Read "Live In Europe" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Europe
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: May 16, 2018
Read "Tales From Under" CD/LP/Track Review Tales From Under
by James Nadal
Published: July 5, 2017
Read "Loveplaydance: 8 Scenes From The Floor" CD/LP/Track Review Loveplaydance: 8 Scenes From The Floor
by Chris May
Published: March 28, 2018