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

Dan McClenaghan By

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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 sound on Lyric. The set is full of low-key melodies that wander a bit—the opener, "Carson's Eyes," contains a drifting Childs piano solo characterized by his light touch, a dash of daring, and a penchant for unalloyed melodic beauty.

Lyric is one of those discs that probably won't appeal to listeners who insist that their music fit into well-defined categories, or people who haven't accepted the jazz "with strings" genre—and they are the poorer for it. Like last year's offering by Charlie Haden, Land of the Sun, Billy Childs concerns himself more on Lyric with the creation of beautiful sounds than fitting them into a box. And he succeeds.

Following Maria Schneider's lead with ArtistShare, Lyric is being sold only at Billy Child's web site.

Track Listing: In Carson's Eyes' Goodbye, Friend; Into the Light; Prelude in Bb Major; The Old Man Tells His Story; Hope, in the Face of Despair; Scarborough Fair; Quiescence; American Landscape.

Personnel: Billy Childs: piano; Larry Koonse: nylon-string and steel-string acoustic guitar; Bob Sheppard: soprano sax, alto sax, alto flute, Bb clarinet; Carol Robbins: harp; Scott Colley: acoustic bass (1,2,4-6,8); Brian Blade: drums (1,2,5-8); Jimmy Johnson: electric bass (3,7,9); Marvin

Title: Lyric: Jazz-Chamber Music Vol. 1 | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Lunacy Music

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