Billy Childs Ensemble – Lyric (Jazz Chamber Music Vol. 1) – Lunacy Music LM-1001 ****:

by | Aug 30, 2005 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Billy Childs Ensemble – Lyric (Jazz Chamber Music Vol. 1) – Lunacy Music LM-1001 ****:

There seems to be a rebirth of the jazz chamber music genre, and of the
several examples that have crossed my desk lately I think this one is
the very best. Noted pianist Childs put his Ensemble together five
years ago. In addition to himself it includes acoustic guitar, harp, a
variety of reeds (played by one performers), both acoustic and electric
bass and drums. There is also an octet consisting of a string quartet,
flute, oboe, French horn and bassoon. Childs produced the album himself
on his own label and it is only available online – not in any stores.

Childs began recording for the Windham Hill Jazz label, then moved to
Chick Corea’s  Stretch label. He had studied both piano
performances and composition, and was nominated four times for a
Grammy. He arranged, orchestrated and conducted Dianne Reeves CD
“Celebrating Sarah Vaughan,” and last year had his composition “For
Suzanne” premiere by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

In “Lyric” Childs seeks to blend elements of jazz and classical into an
organic whole. With his compositional and arranging chops he’s the
perfect choice to make such a marriage work.  The eight originals
plus his special arrangement of Scarborough Faire are full of lovely
tunes, rich harmonies and catchy rhythms.  His pianistic
virtuosity ties it all together — on some tracks almost assuming the
role of piano concerto. There is a feeling of French impressionism in
some of the tunes, especially with the woodwinds and harp. Soundtrack
music for an imaginary French film was Child’s idea about the track
“Quiescence,” which he described as appropriate for a Godard or
Truffaut film. “The Old Man Tells His Story” may remind one of Erik
Satie. Sonics are superb and the alternate-jewelbox packaging is very
tasteful. [“Lyric” is available only at]

Tracks: 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 faire; quiescence, american landscape.

— John Sunier

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