Celebrated within the jazz community as a multi-talented musician, Lisa Maxwell, finally releases a long-awaited album of her own material, dedicated to a special cohort. The lineup reads like a Who’s Who of the music world.
“My dear friend Lew Soloff and I talked about recording my arrangements many times over the years,” she remembers. “Then he died suddenly and I realized I had to stop thinking about it and get it done!” She pulled together a group of New York’s top jazz and studio players, all of whom had a connection with Lew. “Everybody wanted to be on board for this,” says bassist Will Lee, “and the result is a gorgeous finished product!”
Shiny! establishes Maxwell’s talents as a gifted composer and arranger, showcasing a versatility that reflects her broad musical knowledge and experience. She wrote all of the album’s arrangements, and 4 of the tunes are original compositions. They range in styles from boogaloo to straight ahead, to shuffle, to funk, to swing. Shiny! offers something for everyone, including a bonus track remix by renowned electronica/club jazz artist Mocean Worker!
“My writing is heavily influenced by the TV themes of the 1970’s,” she says. “They’re basically the foundation of my cultural identity. Great composers like Lalo Shiffrin, Henry Mancini, Neal Hefti and Earle Hagen underscored my life when I was growing up. I still get a tear in my eye when I listen to themes like The Odd Couple and The Bob Newhart Show. Like those composers, I have very definite ideas, but I write with the soloists in mind and give them freedom within the structure.“
She also cites Wayne Shorter and Gil Evans and as being hugely important in her growth. “Getting to watch Gil’s band every Monday night [at New York’s Sweet Basil] was such a gift. And a lot of those guys are on this album!”
Maxwell connected to jazz at a young age. “I discovered bebop and that was it. I had found my people and my language at jam sessions in South Central L.A. and I’d sneak into as many jazz clubs as I could. I wanted to be like the great arrangers of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Even though I often felt like I was the wrong sex, the wrong color, and born at the wrong time, I kept going for it.”
She studied with renowned arranger Dick Grove in Studio City, and with Herb Pomeroy at Berklee. “I took a film scoring class at UCLA when I was 17 and was hooked after I heard my charts played. Dick Grove was really my main mentor; he got me going as a writer. Then I won a Quincy Jones Arranging scholarship to Berklee and wrote for the recording orchestra. I ended up getting some amazing gigs as a sax player (Guns ‘n’ Roses, Joni Mitchell Project, Spinal Tap), but my calling is as a writer and arranger.” She went on to orchestrate music for Warner Bros. Histeria!, and the Animaniacs/Pinky and the Brain feature, Wakko’s Wish. Maxwell’s original music has been licensed for numerous TV series.”
A breakdown of Shiny! showcases Maxwell’s penchant for conceptual writing.
Visit online at lisamaxwellmusic.com