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Lyric – Jazz-Chamber Music, Vol. 1

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Album Review

The style of pianist Billy Childs over the years has taken different directions, from neo-bop to contemporary crossover and fusion-influenced jazz. But there has always been an underlying classical underpinning in his sound, and with Lyric, that aesthetic is cut free. A sextet, at times complemented by a string section, and including Carol Robbins on harp, guitarist Larry Koonse, and bassist Scott Colley further enhances the chamber music feel. Saxophonist Bob Sheppard is the only non-stringed instrument. All the compositions are extended, leaving plenty of room for interpretation, that important element of space, and a European ECM-like stance that is miraculously luscious at every turn. The music is also playful, as demonstrated on the basic 5/4 rhythm that is stretched during "In Carson's Eyes," the slightly nuevo tango flavored "Quiescence," darker toned as urged by Sheppard's surprisingly lower toned soprano sax on the Baroque sounding "Hope, In the Face of Despair," and harder edged on the final piece of the CD, driven by the energetic, choppy, kinetic 6/8 to 7/8 changes during the astonishing "American Landscape." The music has an oceanic or atmospheric feel as you'd expect from Californian Childs, but the classical, spiritual feeling is omnipresent for the strings enhanced "Prelude in B-Flat Major," the still to slow waltz "The Old Man Tells His Story," and the flute led "Into the Light." Themes are well developed on every track, the interplay between bandmembers, especially Childs, Robbins, and Koonse, speaks to a deep humanitarianism, and the dynamic ranges build and subside with a sophisticated ease. Clearly influenced by truth and utter beauty without being overwrought, not to mention holding an innate sense of wonder and self-assurance, Billy Childs has created an organ of exquisite allure. Assuredly it will stand the test as the timeless, proud music that positions itself above all other similar hybrids. This is a must have for your collection. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Born: March 8, 1957 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most promising of the pianist-composers of the 1990s, Billy Childs is a superb player and an underrated writer. He toured with J.J. Johnson (with whom he made his recording debut), graduated from USC, had an important association with Freddie Hubbard (1978-1984), and led Night Flight (a group with Dianne Reeves). Childs recorded four albums as a leader for Windham Hill Jazz (starting 1988's Take for Example This...) and one for Stretch; started writing commissioned works in 1992 (including...
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Lyric – Jazz-Chamber Music, Vol. 1, Billy Childs
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