Painting at the Piano with Lisa Hilton

When composer and pianist Lisa Hilton creates a new song, she draws upon the visible world around her. Fittingly, Hilton received an art degree in college. Classically trained at the piano since childhood, elements of a painter’s brush and palette show in her 16 albums, including her new work, Horizons. She performs evening shows in Cabaret Jazz on Friday, May 15 and Saturday, May 16.

“What I see in nature informs and inspires my life,” Hilton says. “When I look out to our horizon, I always see something positive and I allow the outdoors to become a metaphor for what we’re doing musically and compositionally.“

Joining Hilton on the Cabaret Jazz stage will be Ben Street on bass and Rudy Royston on drums. This will be Hilton’s second time playing at The Smith Center, following a pair of well-received 2013 performances.

In their shows, the trio will focus on selections from Horizons and Hilton’s previous release, Kaleidescope. Both works reflect a unique aspect that Hilton brings to music – a seamless mixture of jazz’s urban roots combined with scenes from the natural world, as her track “The Sky and The Ocean” perfectly illustrates.

Other selections from Horizons explore the world similarly, such as “Dolphins” and “Currents.” The collection even includes covers that fit the mood: Duke Ellington’s “Sunset and the Mocking Bird” and Henry Mancini’s “Moon River.” Plus, there’s a rave-up rendition of the Black Keys’ “Gold on the Ceiling.” The album has been critically praised, including being called “a winning new release” by Time Out New York. NY Jazz City Record says “the music is artfully constructed but delivers an affecting punch.”

Beyond recording studios and performance venues, Hilton is active in working with visually impaired musicians. She participates in programs at institutions including Chicago Lighthouse, Camp Bloomfield in Malibu, Calif., and theBerklee College of Music in Boston, Mass.

Experience Hilton’s focus on the natural world in the gorgeous video for “The Sky and The Ocean”:

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