LISA KRISTINE HILTON / PIANO, IGMAR THOMAS
TRUMPET, LUQUES CURTIS / BASS, OBED CALVAIRE / DRUMS
“I think we all need jazz in our lives these days,” composer, pianist, bandleader and producer Lisa K. Hilton writes in the liner notes for her upcoming December 2 release, Paradise Cove (Ruby Slipper Productions 1028). “From its inception ragtime, jazz and blues were created to boost moods or morale by America’s earliest composers, such as Scott Joplin, Ferdinand “Jelly Rolly” Morton or Nick La Rocca in the early 1900’s. Our world today desires and deserves a lift after the last couple years, and with the music of Paradise Cove we aim to boost spirits everywhere.” Hilton’s twenty sixth recording debuts her dynamic new L.I.L.O quartet with Hilton on piano, trumpeter Igmar Thomas, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Obed Calvaire. (L.I.L.O. for their first initials). Hilton has performed with the in-demand bassist Luques Curtis regularly for several years, but the charismatic trumpeter Igmar Thomas, Curtis’s former room - mate at Berklee College of Music, is a compelling addition, complimenting Hilton’s fluid style and bluesy riffs. Drummer Obed Calvaire, who regularly works with SF Jazz Collective as well as Wynton Marsalis, contributes considerable creativity to this cohesive band. After recording at The Village Studios in Santa Monica, California Hilton declared, “The L.I.L.O quartet is my favorite band ever…I bet anyone listening will hear the enjoyment we had!” Hilton chose the title Paradise Cove as a reference to our cultural need to find a ‘cove’ or protected spot in our personal lives on a daily basis to escape, revitalize, or reboot and to create a ‘paradise’ or state of grace amid today’s fast moving times.
The nine original tracks and two cover tunes range from the expressive melodicism of “Another Simple Sunday With You”, and the title track “Paradise Cove”, to the wildly upbeat blowing on Dizzy Gillespie’s 1957 jazz classic “Birks’ Works,” Hilton’s own “Blues Vagabond” as well as her “Fast Time Blues.” These tracks exhibit plenty of the quartets improvisational fireworks along with some retro vibes. On a quieter note, the wistful cover of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David 1965 tune “What The World Needs Now is Love” and the moving “Storybook Sequel” showcase a band in touch with a range of emotions and performance styles. Hilton also includes a Latin tinge with the exuberant “Cha Cha Cha À La Carte” as well as the trio tune “Mercurial Moments,” which highlights excellent soloing by bassist Curtis and exciting drumming by Calvaire. “Mediterranean Dreams” is a more classical piece for the trio while “Night Cap and a Little Chaos” has an enticing noir energy that rounds out these vibrant and well recorded tracks.
FAST TIME BLUES
ANOTHER SIMPLE SUNDAY WITH YOU
CHA CHA CHA A´ LA CARTE
NIGHT CAP & A LITTLE CHAOS
WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE
Q: You’ve done three jazz trio albums since 2020: More Than Another Day, Transparent Sky and Life Is Beautiful. Tell us about your new L.I.L.O. Quartet and what inspired the format change in your band on your new album PARADISE COVE?
LH: The last two years were difficult and anxious times as we all adjusted to a worldwide pandemic. Although I continued to compose and record, it was challenging just to find a studio as many were still closed. I wasn’t ready to try anything new, so I focused on our trio work, but by 2022 I felt ready to try new things again. I realized that I hadn’t worked in a quartet with trumpet – only with tenor sax – and I got excited about featuring the trumpet more. Our L.I.L.O. Quartet is the first letter of Lisa, Igmar, Luques and Obed, and it’s my favorite band ever!
Q: Wow - that’s good to hear after the stress of the last two years! Where did you record?
LH: In the past, I recorded several albums at Capitol Studios in Hollywood with my engineer Al Schmitt, but Capitol is now closed and my dear engineer has passed away. Since 2020 I have been working at The Village Studios in Santa Monica, California. The staff is friendly, the sound is terrific and I have a wonderful new engineering team too. Times have changed, but I’m thankful that I have been able to continue putting together strong creative teams of musicians, engineers and artists despite the challenges we faced. Each album is extremely collaborative, and I’m lucky to work with so many very talented people every year.
Q: Tell us a bit about your L.I.L.O. Quartet bandmates.
LH: I first played with Luques Curtis in 2018 at the Smithsonian in DC. He’s a great bassist, and he’s also grown a lot since we began working together. I LOVE his soloing on this album! His room - mate at Berklee College of Music was Igmar Thomas, so when I mentioned bringing in a new trumpeter, Igmar was a natural choice. There’s an Americana energy at times to his trumpet improvisations that fits well with my piano, so it was a real treat recording with him. I had been thinking about working with Obed Calvaire for about three years, so I’m glad he was able to join us for this session. Obed is a very creative drummer, and I think he sounds amazing on Paradise Cove. Recording an album is always a lot of work, but we had great energy in the studio, and that resulted in some explosive playing – I bet you can actually ‘hear’ the enjoyment we had!
Q: I noticed you’ve chosen two interesting cover tunes for this album – Dizzy Gillespie’s Birk’s Works, and then the popular Burt Bacharach/Hal David tune What The World Needs Now Is Love. How did those choices come about?
LH: I’m pretty interested in mid-century music where jazz, folk, and the beginnings of rock and roll commingled with a bit with pop. The classic jazz tune “Birks’ Works” was written in 1957. It’s a favorite piece that also allowed our band to light some improvisational fireworks! As for the Bacharach…I’m always reading about musicians, and my sister recently gave me a book that delved into his life and work. Reading that Bacharach sprinkled jazz ideas and harmonies in his pop compositions, led me to try playing some of his tunes. I read that originally Bacharach and his lyricist, Hal David, didn’t feel “What The World Needs Now Is Love” was very strong, but since they recorded it in 1965 it’s been a song for the ages. I asked Igmar to use muted trumpet and I played the piano in a lower octave in this arrangement to communicate it’s timeless petition for peace. These two very different cover songs were both created by mid - century American compositional masters, and they seem to me to bookend that fertile musical era that also gave us in 1959 Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis, Time Out by Dave Brubeck and other jazz classics.
Q: What made you choose the title Paradise Cove for the album- did you compose to that as a concept?
LH: I always let the music lead me – I never try and make my composing fit a specific idea or concept like you would a school assignment. Creativity comes from within, but you need to nurture it to see what it will form and where you will be led. While recording, I was struck by how exuberant, high spirited and lively some of the music sounded, while the quieter pieces have an essence that feels healing. The music of Paradise Cove feels like a refuge in our complex world. A ‘cove’ is a safe or secluded spot and ‘paradise’ is a state of grace or beauty. We hope people everywhere will feel good when they listen to our music – if they do, that would be the greatest gift an artist or musician can give.
Q: It does seem that it we have a lot of new challenges in our world right now….
LH: Artists need to be in tune with what is happening globally and respond to that authentically, but we all need a break from the news too, right? We need to escape, revitalize, reboot and grow. It’s important to find, or create, beauty around us – to nurture a little part of our day with that puts a smile on our face. Our music is inspired by different genres, eras, and cultures: it’s jazz that is warm and familiar, but it’s also new and uplifting – and it’s got some awesome playing on it by my bandmates! We hope you love it!
P A R A D I S E C O V E is out December 2, 2022 and available Pre-Sale November 2 on Amazon.com or Apple Music
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"MUSIC OF GREAT DEPTH AND SKILL...BRILLIANTLY EXECUTED, GOREGOUSLY RENDERED" THE NYC JAZZ RECORD
Liner Notes for Paradise Cove
“I think we all need jazz in our lives these days. From its inception, jazz and blues were created to boost moods or morale by America's earliest composers, such as Scott Joplin, Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton, and Nick La Rocca around the beginning of the 1900s. The music on Paradise Cove was composed and created to refresh and reboot our collective spirits and inspire all to create a personal “cove” or protected "paradise" for our well-being. Our world desires and deserves a lift after these last couple of years, and with our L.I.L.O quartet (L.I.L.O. for our first initials), we aim to boost spirits everywhere. We had a fantastic time performing and recording Paradise Cove, and we hope you enjoy it too.” Lisa Hilton Sept 19, 2022
"Birks’ Works," written by trumpeter extraordinaire John Birks Gillespie, aka “Dizzy” in 1957, is one of my favorite classic jazz tunes. We never rehearse before we record, so you can guess it's a favorite of everyone's here on this first take. I think this tune is a wonderful showcase for our L.I.L.O. quartet.
We live in complex and rapidly changing times. As a composer, I'm trying to connect with that energy on "Fast Time Blues." This piece keeps us on our toes tempo-wise while the slower sections mimic the exhaustion our culture feels.
I just love how the band recorded "Blues Vagabond!" It has a unique laid back/cool vibe. I was experimenting with playing the blues in a variety of ways on this one.
The subtext for "Another Simple Sunday With You" was that very simple or ordinary things can be filled with joy and beauty when you're with someone you love.
"Cha Cha Cha A' La Carte" is a lively mix of Latin styles all swinging this way and that - it’s one of my favorites here.
The last couple of years we have seen non-stop change. "Mercurial Moments," reflects both the light and dark parts of life, all with a Latin tinge.
Some classic jazz tunes of my mother's era had an edgy noir energy with lush harmonic ideas, and I sometimes enjoy composing with that vibe. "Night Cap & A Little Chaos" showcases that mid-century style.
With its simple repeating motif, "Storybook Sequel" transmits confidence that we can trust and believe in a positive future, or a “storybook” end.
During 2020, many of my friends spoke of missing travel, and the European shorelines were the focal point of that desire. On "Mediterranean Dreams" I tried to include that yearning and lust for freedom along with nature’s beauty.
I love reading books about musicians. My sister Sandy gave me one on Burt Bacharach, and it inspired me to take a closer look at his jazz-inflected compositions. When I considered recording "What The World Needs Now Is Love" written by Bacharach in 1965 with lyricist Hal David, I wanted it to have some gravity. I added the blues intro and played an octave lower than it is usually heard, and asked Igmar to use a muted trumpet on this eloquent and timeless prayer for peace.
There is actually a spot near my home in Malibu called "Paradise Cove." It is a beautiful and secluded area tucked away on our California coastline that offers a sunny refuge to all who visit there. I hope people everywhere will feel uplifted when they listen to our music and bask in the joy we felt recording it.