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Album Review: Sunny Day Theory
Lisa Hilton
Cover image of the album Sunny Day Theory by Lisa Hilton
Sunny Day Theory
Lisa Hilton
2008 / Lisa Hilton Music
52 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Following an especially challenging year in 2007, jazz pianist/composer Lisa Hilton emerged with a fresh new album called Sunny Day Theory. The twelve pieces include eight originals and Lisa’s arrangements of four classic tunes and standards. Backed by Lewis Nash on drums, Larry Grenadier on bass, and Brice Winston on tenor sax, Hilton conveys a broad range of emotions, most of which are on the upbeat, optimistic side. It’s no secret that I prefer Lisa Hilton’s solo piano work, but Sunny Day Theory is great fun to listen to either with full attention or as background music. I listened to it three or four times while putting together Christmas Eve dinner and found it most enjoyable!

Sunny Day Theory opens with “Heat Wave,” a feel-good piece inspired by Erroll Garner’s mambos. Fronted by Brice Winston on tenor sax, this piece really gets up and moves! “Melt Down” continues the upbeat pace with a more agitated and slightly frantic mood – one of my favorites. Lisa Hilton is one of my favorite blues players, and “So Blue” is almost as slinky as her “Seduction” (one of my all-time favorites!). Piano with just bass and drums suits this piece perfectly. I also really like Hilton’s breezy but soulful interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s “Ladies of the Canyon,” again perfect with the piano/bass/drums trio. Contrasting with the fun of the previous pieces, “After The Fire” is reflective of the pain and sorrow from the massive destruction of a third fire that raged through Malibu in one season. “Skylark” is a solo piano rendition of this Hoagy Carmichael classic. Reflective with just a taste of the blues, it’s a beauty! “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” is a wonderful instrumental of the Pete Seeger anti-war song – just as timely and haunting as when it was first heard in 1961. Larry Grenadier’s melodic lead on the bass is a delightful surprise! “Malibu Morning” is a second piano solo, capturing the essence of the early morning in Hilton’s beach town – fresh, lazy, and full of promise – beautiful! Joe Zawinul was a good friend of Hilton’s, and his passing was one of the difficult events of 2007. He once told her she should record one of his songs, so she chose “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” a great piece and a great tribute to a jazz legend!

Lisa Hilton always delivers with each new release, and Sunny Day Theory is no exception. It’s a spirited and satisfying hour of jazz piano that will add a little sunshine to any day. It is available from lisahiltonmusic.com, cdbaby.com, amazon.com, and iTunes. Recommended!
December 26, 2008
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