Lisa Hilton and her trio manifest a memorable experience on Life is Beautiful, her third recording of the pandemic era, and the acclaimed pianist, composer, and producer’s 25th album as a leader. On it, Hilton indulges her love of the piano with 10 original tracks and the cover gem, Ernie’s Blues (written by Ernie Wilkins).
Backed by her ever-excellent band mates: Rudy Royston on drums and Luques Curtis on bass, Hilton’s elegantly swinging piano and engaging compositions encompass a range from traditional tracks, Latin, blues and retro seamlessly.
Royston continually hits the marks on his kit, and Curtis shows off plenty of style over this splendid repertoire of compositions.
The album begins with an impressive bass solo from Curtis on the classic Ernie’s Blues. The tune’s complex chords and loose bluesy passages allow accomplished soloing from Hilton as well. Retro Road Trip highlights Royston’s rhythm skills and has a bit of a Prokofiev energy amid mid-century grooves.
Inspired by classic American Standards, Hilton includes two romantic compositions – So This Is Love and Nightingales and Fairy Tales – both evoking nostalgic charms and reminiscent of some of Bill Evans work in his sixties period. Too Hot dips into modal ideas creating its own melodic atmosphere.
Hilton includes two Latin flavored compositions: Stepping Into Paradise as well as Santa Monica Samba, that show the versatility of the trio in mingling different Latin styles together effortlessly. Seduction is a solo piano piece that Hilton has recorded before, with a new extended version here, showcasing Hilton’s love for the blues.
Temporary Lullaby, written for Hilton’s daughter, is a melodic standout. In her liner notes, it mentions that More Than Another Day nods to Miles Davis, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Cole Porter.