About Us

Based in Princeton, NJ, the Sustainable Jazz Ensemble performs as a duo or trio, adding trumpet/trombone or bass to the core of saxophone/clarinet and piano, for concerts and private events, including fundraisers. The original compositions range in style from jazz to samba to funk, combining fresh melodies, inventive arrangements and improvisation. We integrate into any event, with music that rewards close listening but can also serve as a pleasing background for socializing.

The name comes from leader Steve Hiltner's lifelong work leading environmental nonprofits. When pressed, we can get witty about it, and point out that the music is composed organically, using only local ingredients, natural chord progressions, and solar-powered imaginations. We are proud to say that no virgin timbres are harvested to make our music.

Performances tend to be suffused with humor and positivity, without which no musician/environmentalist could survive. Each composition comes with a story. Fresh Paint was composed while breathing fumes in a freshly painted room. Discriminating listeners will detect that the paint was latex. Lunar Eclipse was composed while forgetting to check out the lunar eclipse that was going on outside. Audiences can hear the determination, struggle, and inspiring vistas incorporated musically into Climbing the Mountain, originally named for its ascending bassline. 

Many of Steve's compositions are also performed by the Michigan-based jazz/latin ensemble Lunar Octet, heard on 250 radio stations worldwide, with tours in 2022 of England, California, and the midwest.