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Lisa Hilton: Oasis (Ruby Slippers)

A review of the pianist/composer's trio album with bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Mark Whitfield Jr.

Cover of Oasis by Lisa Hilton
Cover of Oasis by Lisa Hilton

Oasis is a trio recording that follows a quintet set that followed a solo effort. Throughout her two-decade recording career, pianist/composer Lisa Hilton has zig-zagged in her approach to configuration; it keeps things lively for her and allows her to demonstrate her adaptability. Regardless of her chosen setting, though, the level of Hilton’s artistry never wavers: Her compositional skills and classically informed arrangements are uniformly smart and her playing, while short of dazzling, has never been less than inspired.

With bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Mark Whitfield Jr., Hilton reaffirms that she’s a take-charge leader on Oasis, a master of melodicism and dynamics who’s also a willing team player. The latter quality is to her advantage here: Whitfield and Curtis have worked together for years with other leaders and possess an innate sense of when to stick to providing support and when to kick it up a notch. All they need to make things happen is someone who’s up to their own standards.

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