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Lisa Hilton | Escapism

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Jazz: Cool Jazz Jazz: Piano Jazz Moods: Featuring Piano
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by Lisa Hilton

Hilton’s engaging, expressive and impressionistic compositions explore the soundscape of jazz and blues alongside classical and modernist ideas in refreshingly new but familiar ways.
Genre: Jazz: Cool Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Hot Summer Samba
3:05 $0.99
2. Meltdown
3:24 $0.99
3. Another Everyday Adventure
3:30 $0.99
4. Too Hot
4:34 $0.99
5. On a Clear Day
4:02 $0.99
6. Mojave Moon
5:16 $0.99
7. Zero Gravity
4:24 $0.99
8. Escape Velocity Blues
2:56 $0.99
9. 29 Palms
4:42 $0.99
10. Utopia Cornucopia
3:17 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Escapism: “The ability to escape from reality. Most of the world's great pieces of art, from music to film and paintings, all come from the artist's fantasies.” Urban Dictionary

LISA HILTON often settles in at her piano and riffs on everyone from Miles Davis & Horace Silver to The Black Keys or Green Day, where she can find peace within the notes, letting them fill the room and then fall where they languish in this glow of calm with a touch of brooding blues. But then this past year, the world changed a bit and finding that calm seemed a little more elusive.
“Everything is charged with politics, a large portion of our world seems to be emigrating, and climate catastrophe seems constant,” Hilton says. “There’s been so much turmoil lately; we can’t find a sense of peace surfing the internet or social networks – we need really positive sources to balance out this time of disruption in our lives.”
For her 20th album—Hilton has recorded an album a year since 1997—she wanted to provide uplift and relief, where listeners can be energized and feel rejuvenated. This became theme for her latest release, the aptly titled ESCAPISM. The album includes the Alan Lerner & Burton Lane standard, “On A Clear Day” and nine Hilton originals ranging from the high-voltage opener, “Hot Summer Samba” to the introspective and ethereal “Mojave Moon.” Each composition seems to generate, by albums end, a mental release or escape all its own.
“Artists have an important role in our culture and community – it is through art and music that our souls and spirits can be energized, balanced and entertained – we all need to “escape” from our challenges. I want our music to be a positive force whether you’re listening on the subway, while at work or lounging on a tropical island! Our music embraces the good experiences in our world.”
After working solo on last year’s Day & Night release, Hilton brought back her compadres JD Allen (tenor sax), Terrell Stafford (trumpet/flugelhorn), Gregg August (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums) into Avatar Studios for one of the last sessions at that revered and storied studio before it became property of Berklee College of Music on September 1st. “It was definitely nostalgic being at Avatar the last few days before it changed ownership since no one really knows what will happen to it - we hope good things. I have recorded ten albums there and I love the rooms, they have a special sound and ambience. I think the entire band knew this recording was a time to savor the sense of the place – there were excellent solos going on, and we had a great sound captured by our engineer, a true sound icon, James Farber. What tremendous musicians and all leaders in their own right – I feel so fortunate to continue to work again and again with them.”

Avatar Studios, formerly called The Power Station, was the recording studio of choice for a who’s who of artists: Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, John Mayer, Muse, Josh Groban, Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, David Bowie, and Bruno Mars with many gold and platinum albums created there. “Every session, before going in I’m in awe of all that greatness created in those rooms, but I go for a different kind of creativity,” Hilton explains, “I have always followed the Miles Davis approach in producing in that we do not rehearse at all. We roll and record from the first moment on, and we never overdub or Auto Tune either – it keeps us all on our toes, but I think the music feels more authentic when it isn’t perfect – more soul comes through that way.”

Escapism is an audiophile’s delight from the team of top engineers that Lisa Hilton has worked with for years; besides recording engineer James Farber, it was mixed by 23-time Grammy-winning engineer, Al Schmitt, at the legendary Capitol Studios in Hollywood and mastered by multi-Grammy winner Gavin Lurssen.

The opening track, “Hot Summer Samba”, twirls in multiple Latin rhythms and melodic ideas that Hilton composed to start the album moving; a loosening-up-of-the-collar/inhibitions tune, so-to-speak. That track segues into the fast-paced trio work of “Meltdown”, a wow to push on through. Hilton’s melodic touch is evident in “Another Everyday Adventure”, and the closer “Utopia Cornucopia”, both soundtracks to finding wonderland anywhere anytime, where you least expect it. Although Hilton does not record many covers, her arrangement of Lerner & Lane’s classic “On A Clear Day” calms and inspires, suggested by the unsung lyrics “On a clear day… you’ll feel part of every mountain sea and shore.” The track highlights her excellent trio mates – while showcasing Hilton’s ability to the interpret classics in new ways. The jaunty solo piece, “Escape Velocity Blues”, seems to channel Neal Hefti and Count Basie, but is all Hilton with her signature touch on the keys. The beauty of Allen’s tenor sax and Stafford’s clear flugelhorn, alongside her own pianism, shine through on “Zero Gravity”. Tracks “Too Hot” and “29 Palms” are envelopes of a different kind of space, reaching in evocative and seemingly narrative directions.

“Hilton’s music is picturesque and impressionistic…the pianist has excellent technique.” Downbeat

“Pianist Lisa Hilton has left an impressive creative footprint…Escapism continues her probing investigation of the American jazz landscape. Hilton has a knack for distillation, which is reducing music to its essences: harmony, melody, tempo, rhythm.” C. Michael Bailey/All About Jazz

"Hilton’s melodies frequently blend the two-handed punch of Horace Silver with the moodiness of McCoy Tyner…the rhythm section swings like hell…” Stereogum

“Hilton’s writing is quite expansive.” Cadence Magazine

“Hilton is a pure original… she has a magical ability to make her piano tell compelling stories. Certainly on Escapism her facility for make her instrument talk and sing and wear its emotions on its proverbial sleeve is immense and you can hear this almost immediately as the recording begins. There is so much drama in her playing that one finds oneself constantly at the edge of the seat... She seems to be able to make her instrument a living, breathing thing. This is an album to die for.” Jazz da Gama/ Canada

“At the hands of pianist and composer Lisa Hilton, the piano is anything but black & white….” Malibu Surfside News

“From the First Lady of Jazz, Escapism showcases all he things I love about Hilton’s many albums: her ability to play across as wide a spectrum as anyone in the business, her unselfishness as a band leader – allowing other musicians to share the spotlight – her imaginative way with cover tunes, and, of course, her abundant talent with control and nuance that is almost surreal.” Bill Binkleman/Retailing Insights

“Hilton is a font of creativity, finding almost endless ways to wring new ideas out of the piano and her band is the perfect combination of side players and solo partners. The grooves here are almost endless….
creating all sorts of challenges for listeners without displaying the slightest bit of effort. That’s probably the most impressive thing about this set. Truly wonderful.” Aiding & Abetting – Cruising Underground Culture

Escapism “Blows open your mind and ears….this is a hot, happening date that charts a new course for pianist Hilton. Tasty jamming throughout. Well done.” Midwest Record

“Hilton is excitingly edgy during “Another Everyday Adventure” while showing her swinging digits on “Meltdown.” Her compositions are impressive and deserve interpretations by others, such as the reflective “29 Palms” while her own reading of “On A Clear Day,” is wonderfully dreamy. A Great Escape.” Jazz Weekly

“Excellent creativity and range of ideas!!! Piano playing is totally captivating. HOT SUMMER SAMBA, MELTDOWN and ZERO GRAVITY are a true joy, and my pick as the best of the album. Lovely “conversations” amongst the tight band. The language spoken and speech presented seduces one and brings you on the voyage. Tasty!! Fernando Rodriquez De Mondesert/Jazz en Dominica/Dominican Republic

“The crystalline quality of Hilton’s notes produces a sense of purity… positive energy vibrates from every pore….she traipses across the keys with what feels like a child-like wonderment, the notes sparkling with a freshness that’s nectar for the ears. Hilton’s haunting tones of ‘29 Palms’ have an easy fluidity and a lofty sophistication reminiscent of classic piano music from Beethoven, Chopin or Stravinsky.” Seattle Post Intelligencer

“Lisa’s breadth of creativity and range of ideas are astounding as she reveals the virtuosity of her pianism, musicality and artful sound. Hilton has a lot to say. So listen. And then listen again.” Sounds of Timeless Jazz

“The fantastic jazz pianist Lisa Hilton has something special and her music has always surprised me… As always, the cast of artists accompanying Hilton is of a very high level…. At this moment we are left with a beautiful album.” A Ultima Radio y Comarcas na Rede/Barcelona, Spain



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