This samba keeps getting interrupted before launching into a fullblown groove. Phil Orr on piano is a one-man samba. Composer Steve Hiltner performs on alto sax. Recorded live in April, 2022 in West Windsor, NJ.
Monday, July 4, 2022
Saturday, February 26, 2022
- The Sustainable Jazz duo will be performing Saturday, April 9 at Salon 33, out Alexander Road in West Windsor. You can join a potluck dinner at 7, followed by a performance from 8-10:15.
- April 25, a performance for members of Community Without Walls, who want to hear our original music along with an update on progress at Herrontown Woods and Veblen House. This one's not open to the general public.
Friday, February 25, 2022
For nearly 40 years I've been musical director for the group persistently known as the Lunar Octet, playing original jazz latin, with gigs this year in Michigan, California, and England.
To my right on the bandstand are the prolific performers Paul Vornhagen on various reeds and Brandon Cooper on trumpet and flugelhorn.
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Thursday, October 7, 2021
Through much of the summer, our 2021 Lunar Octet release, Convergence, was at or near the top of Amazon's "Hot New Releases in Latin Jazz." The many positive reviews and airplay around the world are documented on the Lunar Octet website. Though the band is a collective with no designated leader, I took on the informal role of musical director soon after the band formed in 1983, writing out charts and contributing compositions. It's a close-knit group, still based in Ann Arbor, MI. We love performing together, spreading the joy and feeding off the audience's response. Except for a couple covers of Tito Puente tunes, the music is all of our own creation. It's very exciting to see the music now getting heard around the world.
Monday, August 2, 2021
Our jazz/latin band, the Lunar Octet, was recently invited to be on Alternative Venues for Jazz, a facebook group started by Gail Boyd. Gail's a manager of artists, and each day she features jazz artists who talk about their lives and recent recordings. It's a great program and we were thrilled to be invited on. Drummer Jon Krosnick, bassist Jeff Dalton, and I spoke about our lives and the recent release of our album, Convergence, which is getting positive reviews and airplay around the world.our 30 minute self-interview, Jon and Jeff asked me to talk about the genesis of my life as a jazz musician and composer. To have a listen to all or part, click on the link above, not the photo.3:14 -- How I began composing music
14:18 -- How I started to improvise
Thursday, June 24, 2021
We were thrilled to see our newly released Lunar Octet recording reviewed in Downbeat Magazine. It's also been praised in Jazz Is, Jazz Thing, JazzWise, Jazz Weekly, El Chino, PhilsPicks, and in publications in Germany, France, and Japan. There are some nice quotes, like in Downbeat how the compositions "spur the impulse to dance and encourage intellectual engagement at the same time." That's definitely what we're going for. A review in German starts by saying, in translation, "Great stuff that we seldom get to hear these days. Perhaps because music that is not cutting edge is undervalued?" That's another characteristic of the band. Our compositions and performances go by Ellington's mantra: "If it sounds good and feels good, then it IS good."
Saturday, March 13, 2021
Over the years, I've written hundreds of small compositions for piano. Some I used in my teaching of kids and adults, others have sat patiently in files over the decades, awaiting some time in the sun. In these recordings on a piano with a special history, I play the compositions and talk about their personal, musical and sometimes political meaning.
Friday, November 6, 2020
Another of my short piano pieces, performed and discussed, coming to you from my musical man cave. This one feels like a salve for our torn times. The series of palindromes in the baseline were discovered after it was composed. What's a palindrome? I had to look it up to remember. The tune reflects something many of us are feeling now, post-election, that maybe there's some order and sense in the world after all.
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
An at-home rendition of an original composition from 2019, "The Daughter's Song" is conceived as part of a play in which a family grapples with what it means to be part of a time and a culture that is changing the planet's climate forever.
Saturday, July 11, 2020
On June 24, the Sustainable Jazz duo provided a battery-powered performance for the birthday of Oswald Veblen, his legacy still going strong after 140 years. Talk about sustainability!
I found myself identifying the surrounding vegetation inbetween solos, and marveling at the acoustical richness a forest provides, as each tree sends back its own echo.
The event was an experiment in distanced gathering, with the Veblen House standing by and tables freshly hewn and fashioned from a fallen red maple on the grounds. This was an off the grid celebration with candles and homemade bouquets, and perfect weather. The trees demonstrated social distancing, and a visual encore of fireflies added to the magic.
Phil and I played originals along with requests for Take the A Train and Over the Rainbow, both of which take on new meaning in COVID times.
Monday, February 3, 2020
I'm back to composing in my man cave, so we'll be debuting some new original material along with favorites from our CD "Until I Find the Words", March 26, 6-9 at the Hopewell Valley Bistro. Guest artist Sean Dixon will join us on drums, fresh from a gig at Harry Belafonte's 93rd birthday. Part of the popular Thursday night series in downtown Hopewell, hosted by the "Orrsome" pianist and impresario, Phil Orr. 15 East Broad Street, Hopewell, NJ
More on Phil's jazz series in Hopewell, NJ can be found at JazzOnBroad.com. Music runs, walks, and grooves from 6-9pm.
Graphic by Phil Orr
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
There's a great new jazz club in Ann Arbor, MI called the Blue Llama. When our group, in its 36th year of performing original jazz/latin music, played there for brunch a couple weeks back, I knew from the moment I walked in the door that it would be a special experience. Beautifully designed for jazz and world music, it's the kind of space that makes you feel good just being there.
The place has an art deco feel, and the acoustics were designed by the same team that did Dizzy's Club in New York.
Here's conguero and composer Aron Kaufman, playing a solo on my composition, Mambossa. In the background is drummer Jon Krosnick, prime mover in getting our group playing again after a hiatus in the aughts, or however you describe a century's first decade, lost from history, or at least from conversation, for lack of a good name.
The ceiling lighting gives our pianist Keaton Royer multiple halos.
Bassist Jeff Dalton took out his acoustic bass for Jon Krosnick's gorgeous ballad, A Smile of Love.
A great gig in a great venue. Check out the Blue Llama if you're ever in Ann Arbor, and you can find our music at LunarOctet.com. Our new CD will be released early in 2020.
Thanks to Chuck Anderson for the photo that captured the whole band.
Friday, October 18, 2019
Keith Franklin and bassist Jerry D'Anna will be joining me for a jaunt to Duke Farms as Sustainable Jazz performs again this year at the annual Women and Wildlife awards event, a fundraiser for the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ.
The reception is on Nov. 13 at 6pm, and includes a silent auction with some tasty hors d’oeuvres, and some tastefully short but inspiring speeches.
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
An Ann Arbor-based band I've been in since the 1980s came out with a new recording this summer. The group began as a composers' workshop that soon began performing its all original repertoire at clubs and festivals in Michigan and elsewhere. The drummer, Jon Krosnick, a professor at Stanford, organized a tour for us in California two summers ago, and this past July we received a standing ovation for our debut performance of the CD at the Ark in Ann Arbor.
I've long played the role of musical director for the group, composing and arranging much of the material. More info about the band, and some past recordings to listen to, can be found at LunarOctet.com.
Friday, May 10, 2019
Friday, March 8, 2019
We're headin' to Hopewell, NJ Thursday, March 28 to be part of the Jazz On Broad series. Phil on piano, myself on sax and clarinet, playing original compositions from our new CD, Until I Find the Words.
The Hopewell Valley Bistro has good food and drink, and a comfortable space for checking out some jazz. Join us from 6-9pm.
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
The music is available on spotify and other stream services, on Amazon music, or watch on youtube.