Lisa Hilton: Paradise Cove

West Coast pianist and quartet produce a cool, melodic set rich in strong originals, light swing and easy musicality


The 11 selections in this programme are all presented in a melodic, laidback manner where the tempo never rises much above slow to medium. There are no uptempo burners, just smooth, melody-infused compositions delivered in a forward-grooving but essentially cool manner.

All but two pieces are originals by Ms Hilton, and all are attractive and memorable lines – something in new jazz releases that is much rarer than it should be.

The set begins with Gillespie’s Birks’ Works, offering bouncy piano and some strikingly effective trumpet from Thomas. The quartet then moves onto two blues pieces, Fast Time Blues, which is not really that fast and Blues Vagabond, a neat exercise in medium blues lines. Cha Cha Cha A’ La Carte (sic) is a relaxed Latin workout where pianist and trumpeter mesh together for some well-thought-out solos.

The Steinway D piano loaned to the quartet for this session was a great boost and Lisa makes good use of it with her flowing single lines. Always a melodic player, she plays attractive, chime-like improvisations on all pieces.

She says in her liner note that she wanted to present What The World Needs Now Is Love with some gravity. She adds a blues intro, playing an octave lower than usual for this chart and asked Igmar Thomas to play muted trumpet. Her intention of playing “a timeless prayer for peace” works quite well although the ultra-slow tempo is perhaps a little too slow for comfort.

What the listener is left with after hearing this disc is a feeling of relaxed, cool jazz that swings lightly and sounds as though the musicians enjoyed playing it. It works well, not least because although bass and drums stay in the background their rhythmic support throughout is flawless.

Birks’ Works; Fast Time Blues; Blues Vagabond; Another Simple Sunday With You; Cha Cha Cha A’ La Carte (sic); Mercurial Moments; Night Cap And A Little Chaos; Storybook Sequel; Mediterranean Dreams; What The World Needs Now Is Love; Paradise Cove (50.02)
Lisa Kristine Hilton (p); Igmar Thomas (t); Luques Curtis (b); Obed Calvaire (d). Los Angeles, 19 August 2022.
Ruby Slippers Productions 1028