The Lisa Hilton Quartet Masters the Moment
With the Eloquent New Release: Coincidental Moment
Featuring Trumpeter Igmar Thomas, Bassist Luques Curtis & Drummer Rudy Royston
“We find ourselves privileged to listen to Hilton’s music…her innate sense of blues and structure is undeniable.” –All About Jazz
“Flat out incredible sound, tastefully, artfully and brilliantly done.” — KVNF Radio
“I love the way jazz tugs at our emotions in a way no other music can: it can calmly seduce your soul or prompt you to dance,” states the award-winning composer and acclaimed pianist Lisa Hilton in the liner notes for her latest release, Coincidental Moment (Ruby Slippers Productions 1029), out December 1, 2023. “The music here reflects the cool energies and history of jazz, but definitely sounds like today.”
The nine original compositions and two cover tunes are laced throughout with rich blue tones augmented by modal flights all shimmering and swinging with Hilton’s expressive touch on the piano. Coincidental Moment gracefully shares the spotlight with quartet mates Igmar Thomas on trumpet, Luques Curtis on bass, and Rudy Royston on drums and percussion.
Royston’s drum mastery is evident throughout the album, but his delightful and catchy bongo rhythms are also featured on tracks “Jagged Lil’ Blues” and “Blue Tropics”. Jazz traditionalists will enjoy the retro vibes of “Happily Go Luckily” and “Anxiety Society” with their cool grooves and snappy trumpet improvisations by Thomas. The entire quartet shines on the evocative Spanish-tinged “Enigmatic Adventure” and infuse “Everyday Anthem” with a stirring gospel energy.
The inclusion of the iconic Miles Davis/Bill Evans track “Blue In Green” shows the breadth of this band – Thomas’s moody muted tones, contrasting but blending with Hilton’s fluid piano, are underscored by Curtis’s deep bass timbre and Royston’s delicate touch on cymbals. An interesting choice was the inclusion of “West Coast”, written by singer/composer Lana Del Rey: the quartet easily turns this pop track into a darker and very expressive experience. Curtis is a vital contributor throughout, especially on the trio track “Multiple Perspectives”, which blends jazz rhythms and classical interludes with agility. Hilton’s skill in composing intimate ballads is apparent on the title track - performed as a trio – and on “Uncommon Poetry”, which closes the album as an eloquent solo piano piece.
Saturated with lush harmonic ideas and brimming with textures and emotions, the album Coincidental Moment is jazz just right for any moment.
About Lisa Kristine Hilton
The music of Lisa Hilton draws on classic American jazz greats such as Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, and Count Basie, as well as blues heroes Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. She is a prolific composer who records and performs with many of today’s jazz luminaries. Her 27 albums sit regularly at the top of the Jazz Week and other radio/streaming charts for the last two decades, drawing millions of plays on streaming services and appearing regularly as an Amazon #1 New Jazz Release. Hilton has performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Smithsonian Institution, UCLA’s Royce Theatre, San Francisco Jazz, and Chicago’s historic Green Mill.
The Lisa Hilton Quartet 2024 Tour Dates:
• March 6, 2024 – Raitt Recital Hall, 7:30 pm at Pepperdine University, Malibu CA
• March 7, 2024 – SF Jazz, 7pm and 8:30 pm, San Francisco, CA
• March 12, 2024 – Winter’s Jazz Club, 7pm, Chicago, IL
• March 13, 2024 – Weinberg Center for the Arts/New Spire Arts, 7:30 pm, Frederick MD
• March 14, 2024 – Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, 8 pm, NYC, NY
• March 15, 2024 – Jazz Upstairs at Miller Symphony Hall, 7:30 pm, Allentown PA
Q. & A. with Lisa Hilton on her upcoming album Coincidental Moment
Q. As someone who now has twenty-seven albums in the U.S. and two in Asia, how does it feel when you finish each new album? Is it just another day for you since you do this every year?
Lisa Hilton: Creating an album is an enormous amount of work, but I seem to forget that every year until I start listening to tracks and thinking, yikes! But it’s a complete passion for me, and so I continue to compose and record every year. When I’m finishing, there is a huge feeling of relief to get back to a simpler life and be able to play the piano without any deadlines. So I feel very happy and extremely relieved when I finish an album! I do have doubter days when I worry: will people like the new music, or I question whether a tune is strong enough, or whether I have highlighted my bandmates well – but I do know those kinds of worries are typical for any musician or producer.
Q. So, it’s still a challenge for you?
LH: Definitely! But a challenge drenched in jazz and creativity and magic too – there are always some surprises on every project.
Q. Ok, can you give us an example of what you mean by ‘magic’?
LH: Well… I really wanted to record the 1959 tune “Blue In Green” from the iconic Miles Davis album Kind of Blue, but it seemed a bit daunting or even crazy to reinterpret such a beautiful and renowned jazz classic. It is deceptively simple, but its unique modal harmonic ideas and the mastery of the players on that album made it intimidating to me. I did check with my bandmates ahead of time to see if they were up for it, and everyone was. I was nervous about what we would create in the studio, but as Luques put it, “Blue In Green was magic.” It is such a soulful piece, and Igmar had a completely different interpretation on each take – his skills really showed on that. I loved Rudy’s graceful touch on his drum kit, and Luques was creating a real mood – even adding an arco (bowed) bass near the end. We had to play very intuitively together and it worked, creating a remarkable recording moment that did feel like magic. As musicians we live for those times in the studio, and hope listeners feel those moments too.
Q. Tell us more about your bandmates?
LH: I’ve done quite a few albums with Rudy, several with Luques, and two with Igmar now, and it’s a great quartet. I have so much faith and admiration for them as musicians and improvisers, and they are also super nice people. We really enjoy playing together.
Q. When you were composing did you write to a concept for Coincidental Moment?
LH: I let my creativity lead, and as the compositions formed, a concept began to appear as if the music was telling me what it wanted to communicate. Coincidence is defined by Oxford Languages as: “A remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.” I’ve been thinking how everyone shared a mash of emotions and experiences these last three years with the COVID-19 pandemic. I view this period as a Coincidental Moment in time that our world shared, so the album is a collection of emotional points that we have all touched recently – from anxiety to happiness to unique, or enigmatic adventures. It will be interesting to see how this time will change us as a culture. Not many events have had such a significant effect on our planet and humanity, as the last three years have. As a composer, I want to share these moments with listeners.
Q. Interesting! Do you have any favorite tracks when you finish an album?
LH: The compositions all feel very personal - almost like friends to me. In addition, since there are so many hours that you put into any album, I just am not going to work on anything I don’t really love, right? That said, I think “Anxiety Society” and “Jagged Lil’ Blues” are my favorites, as well as “Blue In Green”. I also want to give a shout-out to “West Coast”, because I really like what we did as a band on that tune. Although I prefer to compose over arranging music by other artists, I do choose to support the talents of other women who are composers. “West Coast” was written by Elizabeth Grant, who performs as Lana Del Rey, (co - written with Rick Nowels). I enjoyed delving into her harmonic palette from the 2014 album Ultraviolence. With songs like “Summertime Sadness”, she seems to me to be a modern version of a blues singer.