Escapism, the new CD from classical concert pianist Lisa Hilton, reverberates with a modern jazz modality. Featuring JD Allen on tenor saxophone, Terrell Stafford on trumpet and flugelhorn, Greg August on bass, and Rudy Royston on drums, the recording is both imaginative and melodically structured. The fivesome touch on a cross-section of the jazz repertoire, combining improvised music with classical concert symphonies.
Launching the release with the whirling horns of “Summer Samba,” the quintet jumps into a spicy tempo, with dance beats and jangly keys. Hilton’s keys take on a glittering sheen in “Meltdown,” creating a lyrical feeling as she mixes improvised patterns with melodic motifs. The crystalline quality of her notes produces a sense of purity and a wholesome coloring in “Another Everyday Adventure.” Positive energy vibrates from every pore of the track, as she traipses across the keys with what feels like child-like wonderment, the notes sparkling with a freshness that’s nectar for the ears.
Gliding slow and serpentine along “Too Hot,” Hilton creates a nocturnal effect reminiscent of the music of Stan Getz and João Gilberto. The soothing lyricism of her keyboard playing reflects a solemn mood through “On a Clear Day,” then transitions to a deluge of cool, sensual rotations in “Mojave Moon.” The waltzing strokes of the keys and horns across “Zero Gravity” produce subtle flurries and melodic swells, and the keys step catlike through “Escape Velocity Blues,” moving with a light, quick flitter.
Hilton’s haunting tones in “29 Palms” have an easy fluidity and a lofty sophistication reminiscent of classic piano music from Beethoven, Chopin, or Stravinsky. The mellow keyboard tone in “Utopia Cornucopia” are sonically uplifting, cantering poetically side by side with the horns.
There is a poetic lyricism in Hilton’s arrangements, which pair jazz with classical symphonic music. The music moves with an easy fluidity that offers the listener a pleasing escape where harmony prevails and one is surrounded by melodic soundscapes.
Lisa Hilton – piano, JD Allen – tenor saxophone, Terrell Stafford – trumpet and flugelhorn, Greg August – bass, Rudy Royston – drums