Lisa Maxwell has composed, arranged, orchestrated, produced, and conducted music for small combos, horn sections, strings, big band and full orchestra. Part of the Emmy Award-winning music team for Warner Bros., Lisa was an orchestrator on all 52 episodes of Histeria! animated series, and Animaniacs: Wakko’s Wish feature film. Her original music has been licensed for TV shows including: Sons of Anarchy, Person of Interest, Dexter, Burn Notice, Four Weddings, Gravity. Currently, Lisa is preparing to release her debut big band album, Shiny! Dedicated to legendary trumpeter Lew Soloff, it features Randy Brecker and an all-star band playing her charts. As a sax player, Lisa led the horn sections on the Guns ‘n’ Roses Use Your Illusion world tour and Spinal Tap tour. She has also performed with the Machito Big Band, Gil Evans Orchestra, Charlie Haden, Tony Scott, Hiram Bullock, Will Lee, Steven Tyler, Lenny Kravitz, Carole King, Bruce Willis Band, Chuck Berry, Smokey Hormel, Chester Whitmore, The Joni Mitchell Project and so many more. Lisa started playing piano at age 6. At 15, she switched briefly to 5-string banjo, and finally settled on the saxophone. At 17, she took a film scoring class at UCLA and realized she wanted to write music for lots of instruments. Trumpeter Ray Copeland taught her jazz arranging, and Charlie Haden let her sit in on his classes at Cal Arts. Lisa attended Manhattan School of Music to study saxophone with Joe Allard, and spent most nights in clubs, where she met her musical heroes. She returned to L.A. to study composing and arranging with Dick Grove in Studio City; and then won the Quincy Jones Arranging Scholarship to Berklee College of Music, where Herb Pomeroy taught her Duke Ellington’s nuanced line-writing techniques. A true star she is.
I had the honor of speaking with Lisa about the latest project, Shiny!. This is her debut album as a composer and arranger,featuring an all-star jazz orchestra of New York’s top players, including: Randy Brecker, Will Lee, Paul Shaffer, Mike Stern and so many more powerhouses. We get into the creation of the album. The tribute aspect of this music for her (and all the artists on the album), Lew Soloff, and how he always supported her getting her music out there. We talk about how this album of so many translates into a live setting, as it will for the 5/27 album release show at the Cutting Room in NYC. On the album, there is one track that get’s a little remix, another new aspect for Lisa, her friend and one of my favorite “remakers”, Mocean Worker puts his signature on a version of the title track that allows for ears of another kind to check this music out. The album has groove, style and will breath fresh life into any day.