RR LogoLisa Hilton page one interview headline


Lisa Hilton photo interview page oneIn the liner notes of Nuance, Lisa Hilton writes, “The rumble of an early morning voice; the warmth of a hand on your back, or as Ira Gershwin put it, “the way you wear your hat” – it is the nuances that we find so appealing. It’s not only what we say, but also how we say it that makes all the difference.  Nadia Boulanger, French composer, conductor and acclaimed teacher said that “music should say something” and not be merely a “collection of sounds.” It is in the subtleties of touch and timing where I feel most fluent. I believe that music can express more eloquently than words allow, and appreciate the artists Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Muddy Waters, Igor Stravinsky, Claude Debussy and others who have composed music that movingly expressed nature or emotions-common experiences that we all share.”

In hearing her own words read back to her, Ms. Hilton sighs, reflects upon how long ago she wrote them, how much has transpired since that time and then again comes to the realization that is exactly how she feels.

“I actually had a couple of reviewers diss me for writing that, but that is how I feel. I think there are directions that jazz is going in which are less about communication and are more analytical or take an almost scientific approach to creating music. At times, music has been like that and it is not unusual. At different times in history, there have been composers who relied on more structured ways of doing things. Throughout time there have also been composers who veer in directions that are more impressionistic or that are more about communicating and expressing. That is where I land. When we look at jazz, it has lost a lot of its audience and perhaps, like I said, there has been digression, as it became a little too analytic or scientific and without thought that music was originally created to express joy, fun, dance or sorrow. Those are the things that I care about and those are the things that I am expressing. I just feel that it is an art and it is supposed to communicate. In fact, to me, the definition of art is that it does create an emotion in the audience,” says Lisa Hilton.

Two songs that appear on Nuance and have resided in Ms. Hilton’s vast catalogue for sometime now, are “Malibu,” and “Just For Fun,” the former from the 2004 album Jazz After Hours and the later from Cocktails At Eight, released in 1999.

“I have twelve albums and you are not going to remember all of those songs, so I think it is okay to cover myself. “Malibu,” is a good song and a lot of people don’t know it. It is fun to play. I am enjoying playing it and it was good to pull that one out,” she says.

As for her cover tunes, the Billy Joe Armstrong / Green Day song “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” is a song that Lisa Hilton says grabbed her, would not let go and she finally could no longer resist the temptation to record it. Whereas the opposite is true for the song “The Thrill Is Gone,” (Roy Hawkins / Rick Darnell) something that she grew into as she experienced life. She first heard it when she was much younger and she says it was much like wearing someone else’s clothes and that it did not feel at all comfortable.

Lisa Hilton is however most powerful when she is playing her own compositions, because she is able to transport the listener to her experiences and allow them to feel, smell and see what inspired her songwriting.

As she says, “I don’t want to just play notes that sound good together, I want to have an over arching storyline, scene or direction. I would not necessarily write to a flower or a rock or an inanimate object. I am trying to create, share or communicate a feeling or experience, a mood, that kind of thing.”

Interview by Joe Montague, all rights reserved, protected by copyright © Sept 15, 2010   Return to Our Front Page