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Album Review: Midnight in Manhattan
Lisa Hilton
Cover image of the album Midnight in Manhattan by Lisa Hilton
Midnight in Manhattan
Lisa Hilton
2006 / Ruby Slippers Productions
42 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Midnight in Manhattan is jazz pianist Lisa Hilton’s eighth CD release, and features seven original compositions and four cover tunes. Backed by Bobby Militello on sax, John Friday on drums, and Reggie McBride on bass, some of the tracks really cook and others cool it down to sweet and sultry. Lisa Hilton successfully straddles the line between smooth jazz and the more “out there, anything goes” route jazz often takes. In the studio, the acoustic instruments were recorded without overdubs or similar effects, and the musicians worked without sheet music or chord charts on Hilton’s original pieces, keeping an edge on the improvisational spirit. Possibly Hilton’s best album to date, the music is strong and sensual, and Hilton keeps the piano at the forefront more than on some of her previous ensemble releases (yea!).

The CD opens with an arrangement of “Hit the Road, Jack” that is inventive enough that I didn’t recognize it until I read the liner notes. Then it’s obvious, but the sax and piano improvisations and the emphasis on the blues (something Hilton does especially well) make this an especially good cover. “City Streets” is also a favorite with its playful piano and slinky bass and percussion. Good stuff! The title track was inspired by a walk back to her hotel after a jazz concert on a chilly January night, savoring the energy that is unique to New York. Militello’s sax is especially effective on this track, creating a mood that is dark but very alive and vibrant. Henry Mancini’s classic, “Moon River,” is a lovely duet for piano and sax that is leisurely and sensuous - beautiful! “Sunday Morning” is warm, cozy, and blissfully lazy. Another classic, “Over the Rainbow,” is a piano solo played in a style reflective of the era when it was created (the 1930’s). “The Easy Life” picks up the tempo a bit, but is still very peaceful and relaxed. “Late Night” is another wonderful piano solo that is reflective, a little dark, and very sensual.

Midnight in Manhattan is a great album from start to finish! It is available from lisahiltonmusic.com, amazon.com, and cdbaby.com. Highly recommended!
July 22, 2006
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