Sunday, July 15, 2012

CD Review – American Impressions, by Lisa Hilton

Accomplished and versatile jazz pianist Lisa Hilton extends her extensive discography with this lively collection of ten originals and two classics, inspired by the American experience.

Hilton is joined once again by her band members from her previous release: J.D. Allen on saxophone, Larry Grenadier on bass, and Nasheet Waits on drums. This is my second time hearing this band on record, and they are a tight, solid unit. Although Hilton is the primary composer and bandleader, she fits right in and sounds like one of the players. Her piano is still the focus, but the other instruments are just as important to the mix. While each performer has his or her unique style and sound, all of them think and feel and flow as one.

The compositions are dynamic and engaging, demonstrating musical acumen and yet loosening up with quirky playfulness. The covers of Joni Mitchell’s “Rainy Night House” and Duke Ellington’s “Echoes of Harlem” are in line creatively and musically with the original tunes, which is a testament to Hilton’s masterful writing.

This is a fine addition to Hilton’s catalogue and a worthy tribute to the diversity that is America.

--Raj Manoharan

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