Great piano jazz!
“Cocktails At Eight” is a collection of twelve original and three cover tunes played as piano solos and small ensemble pieces. Free and improvisational, Hilton’s style incorporates jazz, classical, and new age elements, creating strong and sensitive musical lines that feel effortless. One of the reviews I read said, “She’s satin and silk with a touch of denim,” and that seems very appropriate. Many of the pieces are elegant and graceful, and others are more bluesy and fun. I really like this album!
What caught my ear first was Hilton’s excellent arrangement of Paul Desmond’s “Take Five.” Joining Hilton on piano is Tal Bergman on drums and Reggie McBride on bass. The trio is true to the original, creating a mellow groove. I love “Seduction,” a slinky blues solo with lots of sparkling trills and runs all over the piano - fun and funky! Duke Ellington’s “Echoes of Harlem” is another ensemble piece with piano, bass, and drums, and is also a standout. The walking bass line on the left hand and bluesy melody on the right are infectious, with the bass and drums staying in the background, adding to the dark, smokey mood. “Kilimanjaro” is a bit more classical and pensive. The melody is simple, elegant, and rather sad, but very beautiful. “August 1999” is a graceful, introspective piece with a flowing quality. ”Candlelight” is quiet and mysterious. “Moon River” is played by the trio - an easy, gentle arrangement with heartfelt emotion. “Waterfall” is a lighter, more rhythmic piece than most of the other piano solos. I really like this one, too - it sounds like a lot of fun to play! With a compelling bass line on the left hand, the right hand skips around like water bouncing off of rocks. “I’m On My Own” closes the collection with a beautiful ballad. This time the ensemble includes piano, violin, cello, and woodwinds, so it is more of a chamber piece, reminding me a bit of the flowing elegance of Suzanne Ciani’s music with her band, The Wave.
“Cocktails At Eight” is the first of Lisa Hilton’s albums that I’ve heard, but I’m hooked! I love her versatility and the ease with which she changes styles and moods. Highly recommended!