Lisa Hilton | Nuance

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by Lisa Hilton

Solo piano at it's finest: Nuance is a beautifully recorded collection of favorite tracks from the acclaimed pianist, composer and bandleader. “It’s magic.” Cedar Rapids Gazette
Genre: Jazz: Piano Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Twilight
7:23 $0.99
2. Just For Fun
3:38 $0.99
3. Stars
3:37 $0.99
4. Off Minor
3:20 $0.99
5. So This Is Love
6:25 $0.99
6. Wake Me Up When September Ends
3:34 $0.99
7. Malibu
5:05 $0.99
8. Blue Reflections
3:15 $0.99
9. Meltdown
5:28 $0.99
10. The Thrill Is Gone
3:28 $0.99
11. Early Morning Impressions
3:39 $0.99
12. Warm Summer Night
7:59 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"One of the few pianists with her own identifiable sound. Pensive and impressionistic; this is a recording that focuses and captures the exquisite subtleties of life." George Harris/All About Jazz

"Hilton strips herself bare and the result is a series of warmly -recorded solo piano pieces performed with exuberance and confidence." Brad Walseth/

The rumble of an early morning voice, a summer breeze, the warmth of a hand on your back, or as Ira Gershwin put it, “the way you wear your hat” – it is the nuances that can touch us as deeply as dramatic events. It’s not only what we say, but how we say it, that makes all the difference. For pianist extraordinaire Lisa Hilton, it’s not only what she plays – but how she plays it.

“Muddy Waters, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Igor Stravinsky, Claude Debussy and others have all composed music that expresses nature or emotions – common experiences that we all share,” says Hilton, “I believe that music can express more eloquently than words allow.” Nuance, is a varied collection of 12 tracks of new and previously released material, originals and covers, all newly recorded/arranged specifically for solo piano. “There have been some great songs that I have done with the band, that I have wanted to do as solo arrangements too,” Hilton continues, “It was good to revisit some of my favorite tunes again.”

Expanded versions of the upbeat “Twilight,” the angular “Just for Fun” and “Melt Down,” the latter which was featured with the band on NPR’s Morning Edition; the ever-popular romantic ballad, “So This Is Love,” and the former #1 World Wide Jazz track, “Malibu,” intermingle seamlessly with the moody “Early Morning Impressions,” bluesy “Blue Reflections” and the lovely “Stars.” Covers of Thelonious Monk’s “Off Minor,” Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” and the iconic blues tune, “The Thrill Is Gone,” round-out the collection.

Although she’s been favorably compared to Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Horace Silver, Dave Brubeck and Brad Mehldau, Hilton’s own sound shimmers naturally throughout. “My desire is always to communicate and touch others, in a relaxed and authentic style. Technique is about ease of expression, not for saying, ‘hey look at me’,” says Hilton, “I hope listeners hear their lives reflected in these tracks.”

While Hilton had been thinking about doing an album of this nature for many years, it finally came about as a response to requests from Lisa’s many fans. “Nuance is really a gift to them,” explains the critically- acclaimed composer, pianist, educator and bandleader. “I love our band” (which currently includes members Lewis Nash on drums, Larry Grenadier on bass, Jeremy Pelt on trumpet and J.D. Allen on sax), “We have a lot of fun together and the musicianship is very high. But I had promised to do a solo piano album for years now and really enjoyed returning to that format”.

Hilton’s first recording, the solo “Seduction,” was recorded in late 1997 at a time when solo piano had very little chance of finding an audience. Terrestrial radio loomed large at that time, when Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey ruled. “I sold like 2 copies I think and my distributor, The Orchard, had its own problems as well then. I was devastated, but forged ahead.” Hilton continued recording solo but in 2000, she just gave up and started working with a trio, and later her band. “I moved into a new home in 2001 and I remember just dumping the large _” analog piano masters in the dumpster feeling that I had to give up on solo piano.”

This wasn’t the first time Hilton had left behind the music that she was passionate about either. Growing up in a very musical household, (her great uncle, Willem Bloemendaal was a well regarded Dutch pianist), she voraciously studied music in the small southern California town where she went to school, studying classical, twentieth-century music, playing show tunes for school productions and writing blues and jazz riffs. College in San Francisco put her with a piano instructor known for his talent, and his exacting temperament. “I left the piano because I believe music is an art not a science, and after my experiences in college, I didn’t foresee a musical future anymore.” Hilton earned a degree in art instead, forgoing the piano until she returned to playing in 1996. “It was difficult to leave music, my first love, but it did enable me to study art,” responds Hilton. “Now my art is my music; now my passions are combined.”

Since 1997 Hilton has recorded and produced an album every year of her own compositions and arrangements for solo piano, trio, and as a leader for her band. Hailed by JazzReview as a “lioness of jazz,” she works with some of the greatest musicians in music -- Christian McBride, Lewis Nash, Bobby Militello, Larry Grenadier, Jeremy Pelt, Reggie McBride, J.D. Allen and Tal Bergman -- just to name a few, and her current band is comprised of all Down Beat Magazine Critics’ Choice Award Winners. Hilton has produced six of her twelve releases with the legendary, twenty-time Grammy award winning engineer/producer, Al Schmitt, and as one of the few women producers working in jazz, she also runs her own publishing company to oversee 130+ recorded tracks.

“I agree with Quincy Jones, that music saved my life,” Hilton muses, “but I’d also have to say that iTunes did too!” Shortly after it’s inauguration in 2001, Hilton, like millions of others, began selling her music on iTunes and the internet and suddenly found a whole new market for solo piano. “Here I had dumped my masters in despair, and the following year the world changed for musicians. Fortunately my mastering house had kept their masters!” Today Hilton’s solo piano tracks continue to sell well with fans globally, elicit favorable nods from reviewers, and she has seen huge growth in the last several years. Hilton’s music is played on hundreds of radio stations in the U.S., Canada and around the world.

Based in Malibu, California, Hilton’s fluid, expressive playing style has a blues inflected and refreshing Pacific Coast vibe that has been influenced by other one-time Malibu residents: Miles Davis, Horace Silver and Stan Getz. She has received various awards and nominations for her compositions.

“When I hear Lisa Hilton play, it makes me smile. There is something about her music that is earthly, spontaneous and truly from the heart. I can honestly say her music touches my musical DNA.” Bubba Jackson/KKJZ Radio

“One of the few pianists with her own identifiable sound – this is a recording that focuses and captures the exquisite subtleties of life. Her pieces like ‘Stars’ and ‘So This Is Love’ glisten with poise and grace. ‘Meltdown’ and her reading of Monk’s ‘Off Minor’ display her ability to mix solos that exude deeply personal reflection…a lovely album of originals and standards that sets a mood. Pensive and impressionistic.” George Harris/All About Jazz

“An interesting musical journey for piano ace Hilton… have we got a ‘new’ artist for you. Check it out.”
Chris Spector/The Midwest Record

“Nuance is a tenacious detoxification from the jazz mediocrity. Lisa Hilton has offered the shelves of jazz a carousel of diverse signature sounds.” Karl Stober/ WaxTrenzz

“Although Lisa Hilton has been compared to some of the best pianists in history, such as Bill Evans and Brad Mehldau, her sound and style are of her own”. The New Face of Jazz: An Intimate Look At Today’s Living Legends and the Artists of Tomorrow by Cicily Janus/ Random House

“A deeply expressive style of coaxing sounds from keys and offering rich melodies and improvisations”.
Philip Booth, DownBeat Magazine

“Her crystalline touch goes from the dark and foreboding deep to the celebrative high notes, delivering shadowy reflections along with vivacious joy”. George Harris, JazzWeekly

“The legacy of pianist Lisa Hilton escalates her degree of prominence in the global jazz hemisphere”.
Karl Stober/ eJazz News

“An impressionist intent on creating and sustaining moods”. George Kanzler/ All About Jazz/NY

“Hilton’s originality is her strength”. Brad Walseth/



to write a review


Los nuevos matices del Jazz!.
La duodécima publicación de Lisa lleva como título Nuance y se compone de doce solos de piano que se diferencian en dos claros estilos: el género más habitual en la carrera musical de Lisa, el expresivo y apasionado Jazz que predomina en este CD y el melódicamente suave New Age. Nueve de las doce piezas, son composiciones originales, incluyendo, dentro de esas nueve, tres composiciones nuevas. Compositora y pianista, Lisa Hilton pasa la mayor parte de su tiempo actuando con su grupo de Jazz, pero disfruta cuando actúa como solista de piano, indudablemente el acercamiento con el público es mayor y eso mismo consigue con este íntimo trabajo.

Con un sutil ritmo, "Twilight" abre el CD. Un track incluido en su anterior álbum Twilight & Blues. Este posee una melodía que fluye libre, donde la mano derecha alterna suave golpes de acordes con rápidas progresiones sobre el teclado y la mano izquierda alterna notas en la zona baja del piano. Un tema que en ocasiones pierde el ritmo, dando paso a una gran delicadeza. Me encanta!.

De carácter travieso, la melodía de "Just For Fun" es enérgica y perspicaz. Ambas manos reproducen melodías independientes, desconcertantes pero encantadoras. Un track fascinante y una de mis preferidas!.

"Stars" es uno de los temas nuevos incluidos en este álbum. El acompañamiento a la melodía principal se basa en un alternado de notas bajas, casi inapreciables y cuya melodía permanece inalterable hasta el final. La diestra, en cambio, dibuja una tierna melodía. Una pieza elegante, que ligeramente, se aleja del Jazz más rítmico. Estupenda!.

Con "Off Minor" volvemos al suave ritmo de Lisa. Una extraordinaria adaptación que la artista hace de este tema, del cuarteto de Jazz, Thelonious Monk. Delicada y expresiva, y menos rítmica que la versión original, Lisa ha dotado a este tema de una belleza sorprendente. Wow!.

De su anterior trabajo My Favorite Things, Lisa incluye "So This Is Love", una pieza romántica y bellísima, y de una sensibilidad única. Una pieza ambiental idónea como fondo musical para los momentos más especiales. Qué dulzura!.

Una adaptación increíble y no esperada es "Wake Me Up When September Ends" de la banda estadounidense Green Day. El track muestra un lado más calmado con respecto a la versión original. Lisa confiere una gran belleza a este tema. Otra de mis preferidas!.

"Malibu" es convincente. Enérgicos acordes son tocados por la mano izquierda, lo que le aporta gran fuerza al track, mientras, la mano derecha toca con rapidez notas en la zona alta del piano. Un tema poderoso y alentador que ya pudimos disfrutar en su anterior álbum, Jazz After Hours.

Otra de las nuevas piezas de este CD es "Blue Reflections", apasionada y de curso lento. La mano derecha reproduce aligeradas notas que se alternan con silencios, mientras la izquierda reproduce lentísimas progresiones. Sensibilidad en estado puro!. Otra de mis favoritas!.

Impetuosa y nerviosa es "Meltdown". Una pista extraída de su anterior publicación Sunny Day Theory. La melodía principal nace en la zona baja del piano, mientras la derecha reproduce una frenética melodía. Es como si ambas manos mantuviesen una lucha por hacerse oír. Sublime!.

"The Thrill Is Gone" es la adaptación que Lisa hace del popular Blues del Maestro BB King. Más íntima que la versión original y huyendo por completo del ritmo, Lisa da vida a una de las piezas más abatidas e introspectivas del álbum. Una versión muy diferente con respecto a la pieza original.

La última novedad lleva como título, "Early Morning Impressions". Profunda y cautivadora, esta pieza posee una melodía sedante para el oyente. Con lentitud, las notas van surgiendo entre silencios y delicadas progresiones. Un bello toque hipnótico que relaja el alma. Otra de mis favoritas!.

Extraído de su álbum, Midnight in Manhattan,"Warm Summer Night" posee una melodía cálida y acogedora, donde suaves acordes, delicados, acompañan a la grácil melodía que reproduce la mano derecha. Un final estupendo y relajado para este rítmico trabajo. Otra de mis preferidas!. Wow!.

El último trabajo de Lisa Hilton es una selección de grandes temas, todos realmente interesantes. Lleno de matices, este trabajo que goza de un amplio repertorio, música para todos los gustos, desde la más rítmica y frenética pieza, hasta la más delicada y suave. Nuance es sencillamente extraordinario y es la nueva voz que Lisa le otorga al piano, a medio camino entre el Jazz y el New Age. Un álbum muy recomendable

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
"Nuance" is Lisa Hilton’s twelfth US release and is her first solo piano album in quite a few years. In a sense, "Nuance" is a return to Hilton’s solo piano roots, but it is so much more than that. The twelve tracks are a combination of new material and older favorites that have been arranged and re-recorded for solo piano. It is also a move forward in that nine of the pieces are original compositions. Hilton’s first two albums were solo piano and went nowhere on the charts despite their excellent quality. Radio wasn’t playing solo piano recordings so pianists were having a very difficult time being heard. Hilton’s next couple of albums were with her trio and then her band. She usually included a couple of solo tracks, but most of her recorded music is jazz ensemble. With the advent of internet radio and the accessibility of a much broader range of music on the internet, solo piano music is again being heard on the air waves. And, Lisa Hilton’s first two albums are now deservedly quite popular!

"Nuance" begins with “Twilight” a delightfully rhythmic and evocative original tune that appeared on last year’s "Twilight & Blues" - cool and refreshing! I love “Just For Fun,” a playful and energetic tease. I love Hilton’s blues music, and this is one of her best. “Stars” slows it down to a soothing ballad enhanced with grace and beauty. “Off Minor” is one of the cover tunes, this one by Thelonious Monk. “So This Is Love” has appeared on a couple of Hilton’s earlier recordings, but this arrangement is my favorite - smooth and soulful. One of the surprises is Hilton’s arrangement of Greenday’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends” - a gorgeous interpretation! “Blue Reflections” is slinky piano blues at its best. Love it! “Melt Down” first appeared on 2008’s "Sunny Day Theory" as an ensemble piece, but I love the energy and attitude of the solo version. The other surprise is B.B. King’s signature piece, “The Thrill Is Gone.” That’s been one of my favorite songs since college, and I’m not sure I would have recognized it without the title on the album. Very dark, very slow, and spilling over with deep emotion, Hilton has created a very personal take on this gem. “Early Morning Impressions” is, like the title says, impressionistic. Gently flowing and leisurely, it’s another favorite. “Warm Summer Night” was on 2006’s "Midnight In Manhattan," and is a beautiful ballad that closes the album with a quiet smile and sense of contentment.

Lisa Hilton has hit a homerun with "Nuance," so if you enjoy solo jazz piano, it’s a must-have. Recommended!