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INTERVIEWS

Billy Childs: Pushing Past Preconceptions

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[ Editor's Note: The following interview is reprinted from George Colligan's blog, Jazztruth]Billy Childs is simply one of the baddest musicians on the planet. He's a brilliant jazz pianist, having received much acclaim as a sideman with legends as well as from being a bandleader. His Windham Hill recordings--Take For Example, This....., His April Touch and Portrait Of A Player--were a big influence on my musical tendencies.Childs has been busy for the past two decades as a composer, having been commissioned by major symphony orchestras as well as jazz stars. He has received three Grammy Awards ...

INTERVIEWS

Billy Childs: The Perfect Picture

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There is a somewhat-still-virgin musical territory that rests its innocent heart where classical music ends and jazz commences. Many have beautifully tiptoed on its smooth surface before, mixing, experimenting, creating and even challenging its balance with both improvised and organized notes. Music is in constant evolution, and jazz has always, in one way or another, embraced those who take each step a little further ahead every time. Taking risks makes the magic worthwhile, and the experience always promises to be grand. Composer/pianist Billy Childs' creative magnitude seems to be that of a brilliant, powerful star suspended in the night sky ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Billy Childs at the Douglas Beach House, Half Moon Bay, CA

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Billy Childs Jazz Chamber EnsembleDouglas Beach HouseHalf Moon Bay, CaliforniaMay 2, 2010 The packed Douglas Beach House was a testament to the Billy Childs Jazz Chamber Ensemble's reputation, and moreover the performance confirmed that he and the band were well within the groove despite the group's not playing together for the preceding eight months. Childs brought with him what proprietor Pete Douglas called a band with a scary depth of talent. This afternoon on May 2 Billy Childs smiled with confidence as he sat before the Steinway Grand, checked out Marvin Smith over on the ...

INTERVIEWS

Billy Childs: Lyric

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Billy Childs' new recording Lyric: Jazz-Chamber Music Vol. 1 may seem a radical new direction from his previously recorded output as a jazz pianist/leader. But, somewhat under the public's marketing radar, for the last six years or so Childs has been spending much of his energy on larger scale composition, arranging, and orchestrations. While still a great pianist, his writing and conception of style/genre is possibly in the forefront of his modus operandi, and has seemingly come to a head with this most recent CD.

Over the last five years Childs has been nominated for his fourth Grammy; ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Childs Ensemble: Lyric: Jazz-Chamber Music Vol. 1

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Since its birth, the world of jazz has been at odds with the realm of classical music. Owing to the presupposition that these two musical worlds are possessed of an incongruent aesthetic, a fusion between them may seem impossible. However, Lyric shows that music is music. With the first installment of his new Jazz-Chamber Music series, pianist Billy Childs fuses elements of jazz and classical music into a convincing, seamless whole.

The merging of jazz and classical music presents an interesting choice to the artist: will the character of chamber jazz be presented merely in the approach to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Childs Ensemble: Lyric: Jazz-Chamber Music Vol. 1

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Two questions come to mind when encountering Billy Child's intriguing, long-overdue new release. First, what exactly is “jazz-chamber music"? Is the “chamber music" part simply a function of adding classical instrumentation (strings, harp) or a reference to occasional resemblances to Bach and Satie and the French impressionists--or is it just a new banner flying over what used to be called the “third stream"?

Then, after listening to Lyric once or twice, a second question emerges: Why should we care what it's called? The music is lovely and lush, variously urgent and tranquil, and always elegantly scored; Childs' piano playing is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Childs Ensemble: Lyric: Jazz-Chamber Music Vol. 1

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Los Angeles-based pianist/composer Billy Childs mixes the intimacy of classical European sounds with the spontaneity of American jazz in a creative style he terms “Jazz-Chamber Music." The instrumentation of Lyric tells its story: piano, accoustic guitar, reeds, bass and drums say “jazz"; harp, flute, oboe, bassoon and a string quartet say “classical."The harmonic layering that unfolds throughout--via the harp/piano/acoustic guitar mix--has an unusual and unusually lush and beautiful feeling beneath the classical colors of the ensemble. All the tunes here are Childs originals, except for Paul Simon's “Scarborough Faire," a lilting, gentle, melodically subtle tune that typifies the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Childs Ensemble: Lyric: Jazz-Chamber Music Vol. 1

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It's a mystery why pianist Billy Childs hasn't received the kind of widespread acceptance from the greater jazz community that he deserves. He's a versatile player with experience in a variety of contexts--mainstream work with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, contemporary post bop with vibraphonist Joe Locke, arranging, orchestrating, and conducting Dianne Reeves' The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan... even pedal-to-the-metal fusion with guitar icon Allan Holdsworth.

Childs is a mature player with the same kind of complex improvisational mind as Brad Mehldau, though he tends toward a less dense delivery. But as fine a pianist as he is, he's perhaps even more ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Childs: Bedtime Stories: A Tribute To Herbie Hancock

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With Todd Barkan now at the helm of 32 Jazz, West Coast jazz musicians are receiving more attention, what with the label releasing new CD’s by under-recorded and vastly talented pianists Denny Zeitlin and Billy Childs, among other musicians with a West Coast presence. With the jazz press concentrated in New York and to a lesser extent in Chicago, Childs’ lack of visibility and his diligence in orchestrating projects like Dianne Reeves’ new album, The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan, have kept him behind the scenes more than he deserves. Bedtime Stories rectifies Childs’ relative paucity of recording activity ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Childs Trio: Bedtime Stories

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These days, piano trio-based recordings are sprouting faster than weeds growing out of concrete; however, the highly respected pianist Billy Childs breathes renewed life into a set dedicated to pianist/composer Herbie Hancock, titled Bedtime Stories – A Tribute to Herbie Hancock. And along with the ace rhythm section of bassist George Mraz and drummer Billy Hart, the leader supplements this impassioned date with a soul-funk version of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine”, along with stylish renditions of Sting’s “Fragile”, Wayne Shorter’s “Oriental Folks Song” and the Duke’s, “Sophisticated Lady”. Yet it is the pianist’s attractive renditions of Hancock classics that ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Billy Childs/Buster Williams/Carl Allen: Skim Coat

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Skim Coat brings together three highly compatible players: Billy Childs (piano), Buster Williams (bass) and Carl Allen (drums). It’s a thoughtful but accessible modern jazz album--the perfect accompaniment to a pot of coffee and the Sunday newspaper.Metropolitan Records owner Stan Chovnick recruited this trio on the strength of its performance at a 1998 jazz educators conference in New York. A year later the educators were still buzzing about the band's appearance in the Big Apple, and it's easy to hear why. These three players share a special chemistry.Childs’playing is often compared to Herbie Hancock’s, but the ...



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