Lisa Hilton’s 14th album as a leader features band members J.D. Allen on tenor saxophone, Larry Grenadier on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums. The pianist/composer/producer focuses on impressions of everyday life in America in 10 songs she has written for this project. The ensemble also performs great cover s of Duke Ellington’s classic “Echoes of Harlem,” and Joni Mitchell’s “Rainy Night House.” Hilton uses her exemplary pianism and soloing from her bandmates to change the moods in these compositions. For example, “Too Hot” opens with her prominent melodic phrases before J.D. Allen’s raises the temperature with his scorching and sensual tenor saxophone phrases.
Their harmonic and rhythmic language is more complex and richer on “Anatomy of the Blues,” in which bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Nasheet Waits lay down a carpet of rhythm for Allen and Hilton who express the main musical landmarks in the piece with exceptional skill. Lisa Hilton’s depiction of raindrops in “When It Rains” is simply beautiful. She captures the lightness of quickly falling drops with nimble trills that imitate the falling rain. By contrast, the technique she uses to reveal the hurried feeling of passengers making their way to the “Subway” explains why Lisa Hilton’s fans are blown away by her virtuosity.
Overall, the various moods and impressions are all presented with impeccable clarity that you are sure to enjoy. American Impressions is a valuable offering filled with great ideas and exemplary instrumental performances by musicians who show a mastery of their special characteristics and techniques.