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What makes a great day in the studio?

Lisa K. Hilton with drummer Obed Calvaire, trumpeter Igmar Thomas and bassist Luques Curtis. Photo by Leigh Shane at The Village Studios, Santa Monica

For the last three albums I was focusing on our trio, but in 2022 for my recording for Paradise Cove, I felt ready to try something new. 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 I think it’s my favorite band ever! 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!

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.

What makes a great day in the studio? Amazing musicians, talented engineers, well prepared music and of course, pizza!

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