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Album Review: The New York Sessions
Lisa Hilton
Cover image of the album The New York Sessions by Lisa Hilton
The New York Sessions
Lisa Hilton
2007 / Ruby Slippers Productions
45 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
The New York Sessions is pianist/composer Lisa Hilton’s ninth release to date. The twelve tracks are a combination of solo piano and ensemble pieces that feature the stellar lineup (Hilton’s “dream team) of Christian McBride on bass, Lewis Nash on drums, Jeremy Pelt on brass, and Steve Wilson on sax. Following last year’s “Midnight in Manhattan,” this Malibu-based California girl seems to have found her muse in the Big Apple of late. Seven of the twelve tracks are original compositions, and the covers feature Hilton’s infectious arrangements of music by Joni Mitchell, Ray Charles, Johnny Mandel, and Thelonious Monk.

The New York Sessions begins and ends with Joni Mitchell’s wonderful “Both Sides Now,” a favorite from the later 1960’s. Arranged for trio with Hilton, McBride, and Nash, the bittersweet tone of the song is beautifully communicated without words. “Over and Over” steps up the tempo considerably and brings in the whole ensemble, cooking up some spirited fun. “A Bit of Soul” by Ray Charles is a great blues piece with more than a little attitude. The band adds a New Orleans flavor that keeps the head bobbing and the toes tapping - good-time music! “Emily” by Johnny Mandel is a dreamy piano solo with a stream-of-consciousness kind of flow. Hilton started working on her signature piece, “Seduction,” in high school, and it was the title track of her first CD (1997). It also appeared on “Cocktails at Eight”(2000) and “My Favorite Things” (2005), quite different each time. I still prefer the sultry solo piano version, but I love this piece in any form! “Where Are You Now” is a beautiful ballad, full of longing. Hilton gives the other musicians lots of room for their own interpretations of the piece. “Epistrophy” is a playful take on Thelonious Monk’s theme song. “Mystery” is a dark, seductive piano solo with a casual, languid pace - one of my favorites on this album.

Lisa Hilton is an exceptional pianist, with or without her band, and I always thoroughly enjoy her work. The New York Sessions is available from lisahiltonmusic.com, amazon.com, cdbaby.com, and itunes. Recommended!
September 2, 2007
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