The lithe, understated pianist Lisa Hilton has led a dozen dates, and Underground is record no. 13. There’s a nocturnal ambience about her brand of jazz, one she seems to play up with past album titles like Cocktails at Eight…, Jazz After Hours, Midnight in Manhattan and After Dark. Moreover, the credits list on some of her past efforts are sometimes rather impressive (Eric Marienthal, Lewis Nash, Christian McBride, Jeremy Pelt, etc.). Underground, too, is start-studded: J.D. Allen on sax, Larry Grenadier on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums. This one contains all originals, save for Bill Evans’ “B Minor Waltz,” giving us perhaps a better view into Hilton’s compositional skills. The opening title track with its ominous melody, prowling low register piano lines and some excellent support coming from Waits and Granadier fulfills the promise from combining fresh, self-written songs with a crack team of session players:
Unfortunately, there’s not much going on worth noting after that track. The next best selection is the Evans’ cover, but probably because it sounds so much like Evans; there wasn’t much imagination invested in re-interpreting the song. Other songs, like “Someday, Somehow, Soon,” wander a bit and others are too low key to demand full attention. All told, it’s a pleasant enough record, but Underground underachieves.
Half Notes is a quick-take music feature on Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.