Cynthia Hilts: Second Story Breeze


Second Story Breeze


Cynthia Hilts (piano, vocals)


Second Story Breeze (Blond Coyote Records BCR001)

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Cynthia Hilts (piano, vocals),

Ron McClure (bass), Jeff Williams (drums)


Composed by Cynthia Hilts


Recorded: Brooklyn, NY, April 1998; released 2008


Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

Composer, pianist and vocalist Cynthia Hilts has put together a collection of disparate and entertaining forms on her latest release. The CD's P.R. material suggests that this is Hilts's nod to the more traditional side of jazz. If so, she must play some really far-out stuff when not being traditional. Several standards are included along with her original compositions. Her interpretations of the standard repertoire turn convention on its head.

The title cut opens the album. Hilts's wordless vocals set the scene. On this tune, and on no other cuts, Hilts sounds like Anita Baker. As enjoyable as her voice is, however, I am drawn more to her piano playing. On "Second Story Breeze" she certainly takes the path less taken. Her lines are always a bit off-center. Her syncopation is not syncopated, at least not in the traditional way. The first time you hear this apparent incongruity, it throws you a bit. The second and third times, you realize this is her congruity! Bassist Ron McClure and drummer Jeff Williams are able helpers.

Some listeners may not be able to get with the plan. Each tune on the album heads in a different direction, and Hilts's voice takes on various characteristics as needed. But once you acquire a taste, you will probably want more.

Reviewer's note: After reviewing this cut, I contacted the artist's publicist to obtain a recording date. It turns out the piece was recorded in 1998, ten years prior to its release. That makes it even more interesting.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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