Billy Childs, The Winds of Change Review
Jazz pianist and composer Billy Childs: A Master of Modern Jazz Piano
Jazz pianist and composer Billy Childs has earned a reputation as one of the most diversely prolific and acclaimed artists in the music industry. Born in Los Angeles in 1957, Childs quickly developed his piano skills and pursued formal music theory and composition studies at USC. He has since garnered numerous accolades, including the 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009, and five Grammy Awards, with sixteen nominations in total. Childs’ illustrious career has seen him release multiple albums, collaborate with renowned artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, The Kronos Quartet, Wynton Marsalis, and Sting, and receive commissions from prestigious orchestras. Blending his jazz roots with classical influences, Childs continues to push musical boundaries and reach new heights in his work.
The Winds of Change, Billy Childs’ latest release on Mack Avenue Records, finds the five-time GRAMMY® Award-winning pianist and composer delivering an album that is a testament to the limitless possibilities of modern jazz. Childs’ beautiful piano playing, rooted in contemporary jazz, is complemented by the exceptional musicianship of his all-star quartet, featuring trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Brian Blade.
The title track exemplifies Childs’ unique approach to modern jazz, seamlessly blending various styles in his compositions. Initially crafted for the late Roy Hargrove and the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra, Childs’ piano playing emphasizes vibrant colors and captivating melodies. Blade and Colley’s rhythmic support enhances the solos of both Childs and Akinmusire, resulting in an engaging and powerful modern jazz listening experience marked by dynamic interactions and creative compositions.
In “Master of the Game,” Childs constructs a compelling melody, weaving together different sections as he and Akinmusire collaborate to deliver the theme. The composition’s form creates a sense of intrigue. During Childs’ solo, Blade and Colley provide accompaniment that complements the various harmonic and rhythmic textures; Childs introduces, effectively maintaining the solo’s continuity as a unit. This remarkable cohesion among the quartet is a defining characteristic throughout the album, highlighting Childs’ prowess in modern jazz piano playing.
In conclusion, The Winds of Change is a testament to Billy Childs’ remarkable originality and mastery of modern jazz piano. The album showcases his ability to blend diverse styles and influences into captivating compositions and arrangements, further elevated by his exceptional piano playing. The all-star quartet, featuring Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Scott Colley on bass, and Brian Blade on drums, complements Childs’ artistry with their virtuosity. The synergy between the ensemble members, particularly the dynamic interplay between Childs’ piano and Blade’s drums, creates a powerful and engaging listening experience that captures the essence of modern jazz. With The Winds of Change, Billy Childs and his quartet pay homage to jazz legends while simultaneously forging a new path, further solidifying Childs’ status as a true innovator.
The Winds of Change
Mack Avenue Records
March 17, 2023