Born: November 14 Primary Instrument: Piano
Cynthia Hilts--internationally renowned jazz artist--is a pianist and vocalist, a prolific composer and brilliant lyricist. Her trio CD Second Story Breeze, with Ron McClure and Jeff Williams, has just been released. Critics say: Cynthia Hilts, as mentioned, is true to the bebop tradition with nods to the masters, yet remains uniquely individualistic in style and substance.
Cynthia Hilts is a multifaceted, multi-talented artist. She is a phenomenally gifted pianist...This lady can write some terrific, refreshingly new songs and then deliver not only the piano portion but also the lyrics with her dusky, sexy voice.
Originally from Arizona, she has been based in New York City for fifteen years. The range of her talents is inspiring. There is the beauty of her compelling performance and recordings - piano and voice interweave with grace, at the same time they are astonishingly independent. There is the depth and charming eccentricity of her compositions and lyrics--pure organic artistry as she creates the next amazing departure. And the refreshing individuality of her interpretations, both as jazz musician and jazz composer--standards and jazz tradition are transformed by the magic of Cynthia Hilts.
Her life has always been music. Playing and singing since she was two years old, she studied classical and played anything in her path in those early years - standards, folk, show tunes, rock and blues. Talent and technique peeked through as she began composing at twelve, vocalized on educational recordings, and started picking up jazz standards by ear from records. She also performed on the road with a musical revue, and rock and blues bands.
Cynthia got deep into playing and singing jazz in her teens and studied jazz composition and arranging at Berklee College of Music. She developed a firm rooting and a fresh voice for the standards. Her twenties opened up into post-bop jazz, avant-garde and free jazz, as well as playing regularly in reggae and calypso bands. She spent time in San Francisco Bay Area, Florida, France and Sweden-- Cynthia Hilts' CD, Stars Down to the Ground, was released in 2000. Montana Artists Refuge's first release, it is music that Ms. Hilts wrote during her 1999 residency there and recorded with Montana musicians. She recorded a free-jazz CD with Mike Ellis, George Garzone, Cecil McBee and Pheeroan Aklaff in April 2002. She has also recorded with The Spirit of Life Ensemble and Tunisian guitarist/composer Mamdouh Bahri.
Ms. Hilts has performed solo and led a number of ensembles over the years, playing mostly her original compositions. Her jazz groups have included such musicians as Ron McClure, Jeff Williams, Pierre Michelot, Claire Daly, Gerald Cannon, Jack Walrath and Gene Jackson. She has played in festivals, concerts and clubs in New York City, around the USA, France, Germany, Mexico, Madagascar, and Tunisia. She has recorded with the French and Swedish National Radios. Cynthia Hilts' Lyric Fury Ensemble, an eight-piece group formed expressly to play her avant garde jazz and new music works, has played in New York City at Sweet Rhythm and in the Texaco, JVC and Knitting Factory Jazz Festivals. She also performs an entirely different body of original music as CincHa--singer/songwriter--soon to be released on a self-titled CD.
Cynthia has received a number of awards and grants from Meet the Composer, US West, and the Montana Arts Council as well as commissions from The Festival of Women Improvisers, the Montana Artists Refuge, and choreographer Bernadette Knaeble.
Ms. Hilts plays in numerous big bands and singer/songwriter groups. She has played and conducted for documentaries and worked as musical director for several theatre productions. Ms. Hilts has recently launched her Blond Coyote Publishing company, with a catalogue of over 150 original compositions and arrangements. This rich library includes: jazz instrumentals, vocals, and arrangements; lullabies, children's music and humorous tunes; and classical and new music for piano, voice, cello, and trumpet.
Cynthia Hilts continues to entrance audiences in the US and abroad. She plays regularly in New York City and environs.
Cynthia Hilts, as mentioned, is true to the bebop tradition with nods to the masters, yet remains uniquely individualistic in style and substance. -- ejazznews.com
She plays with the same kind of beauty that Herbie Hancock and Dave Brubeck have in their playing, where it's not just hammering for the sake of hammering, there's a lot of thought in each and every move she makes, which include the amount of space between each chord and phrase... --the runoffgroove.blog
Second Story Breeze
Blond Coyote Records
Tracks: Second Story Breeze; Nun, Miffdemeanor-Like; Love For Sale; My Favorite Things; The Fading Blue; Living It Up; Three Blind Mice; Venus; Bunny; Waiting.
Personnel: Cynthia Hilts: piano/voice composition; Ron McClure: bass; Jeff Williams: drums.
Stars Down to the Ground
Tracks: A Rock's Line; Heifer On Capitalist Ave; Love Song for a Mountain; Faith and the Mash; Elk Bones; Stars Down to the Ground; Greengrass Forest; Hounding; Joe, I'm Leaving; Porch Tune.
Personnel: Cynthia Hilts: piano/voice/composition; MJ Williams: trombone, voice; Craig Hall: guitar; Mike Carey: bas; Brad Williams: drums
As A Side Musician
Expect the Unexpected
Tracks: Track; Track.
Personnel: Mike Ellis: baritone sax; George Garzone: tenor sax; Graham Haynes: trumpet; Cynthia Hilts: piano; Cecil McBee: bass; Daniel Moreno: percussion; Pheeroan Aklaff: drums.
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Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students