Billy Childs to Open Segerstrom Center's 2014-15 Jazz Season, 10/17
When composer/arranger/pianist Billy Childs was introduced to the music of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer-songwriter Laura Nyro at the age of 11, he was left with a powerful and lasting impression of Nyro's unique blend of Broadway-inspired melodies, jazz improvisations and socially conscious lyrics. Childs returned to that early experience for his latest project, creating and orchestrating his newest album, Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro. Orange County jazz fans will have the opportunity to hear Childs' loving homage to the late great Nyro at Segerstrom Center for the Arts on Friday, October 17 at 8 p.m. in the Rene?e and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.
"I related to her more than the other singer-songwriters of that era because the piano was the engine that was driving a lot of her music," Childs said. "It was easy for me to escape into the world of the music because of its theatricality. The way she used silence, dynamics, going from extreme changes from very loud to very soft or vice versa - or heavily orchestrated to minimal. All of these were used to tell whatever story she was telling. Also, her words were not literal, more metaphorical and allegorical, so you could imagine what she was talking about and made it easier for me to conjure up images in my mind."
Childs is not alone in his enthusiasm for Nyro's work. The album features collaborations with artists such as classical soprano Rene?e Fleming and R&B chanteuse Ledisi, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and jazz stars Esperanza Spalding and Wayne Shorter. Other prominent voices include Alison Krauss, Rickie Lee Jones, Shawn Colvin, Dianne Reeves, Susan Tedeschi and featured instrumental soloists Chris Botti, Jerry Douglas, Chris Potter and Steve Wilson also perform. Lisa Fischer and Becca Stevens, who perform on the new recording, will join Childs for his Segerstrom Center concert.
"The way she hit me, and the way she continues to hit me is on an emotional level other than the intellect," Childs said. "If you love somebody, does that change? If you love your son, daughter, or mother does that change? I don't think so. Her music is such that it's so open for interpretation - you can spend
your life interpreting it and make the music mean certain things to you. It may mean different things as time goes on, but my relation to it has not."
Tickets to Billy Childs: Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro start at $29 and will go on sale Sunday, September 14 at 10 a.m. PST. Single tickets will be available online at SCFTA.org, at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa or by calling (714) 556-2787. For inquiries about groups of 10 or more, call the Group Services office at (714) 755-0236. The TTY number is (714) 556-2746.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts applauds Kia, Official Automotive Partner of the Center and United Airlines, Official Airline of the Center. KJAZZ is a Media Partner of the Jazz Series.
Jazz pianist/composer Billy Childs remains one of the most diversely prolific and acclaimed artists working in music today. Childs' canon of original compositions and arrangements has garnered him a Guggenheim Fellowship, 10 Grammy nominations, and three Grammy awards, including Best Instrumental Composition for "The Path Among the Trees" (2011) and "Into the Light" (2005), from his much-heralded jazz/chamber releases, Autumn: In Moving Pictures and Lyric. DownBeat Magazine stated, "Childs' jazz/chamber group has taken the jazz-meets-classical format to a new summit."
Born in Los Angeles in 1957, Childs was already proficient at the piano by age 6; he was accepted in USC's Community School for the Performing Arts at age 16, studying music theory and piano. He graduated from USC in 1979 with a degree in composition. Among Childs' early influences: Herbie Hancock, Keith Emerson, Chick Corea and others. He credits classical composers such as Paul Hindemith, Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky for influencing his love of composition. Child's performing career was also enriched with early-career apprenticeships with legendary jazz trombonist J.J. Johnson, and trumpet great Freddie Hubbard, in the late 1970s/early 1980s.
Childs released his first solo album, Take For Example, This... in 1988, on Windham Hill Jazz Records. It was the first of four raved-about albums on the imprint, culminating with the acclaimed "Portrait of a Player" in 1993. In 1995, Childs released I've Known Rivers on Stretch/GRP Records. In 1996, he released The Child Within on Shanachie Records. Songs from both recordings garnered his first Grammy nominations.
Childs' multiple musical interests also include collaborations, arrangements, and productions for other acclaimed artists, including Yo Yo Ma, Kronos Quartet, Wynton Marsalis, Sting, Chris Botti and Leonard Slatkin, among others. Childs has received orchestral commissions from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (where he presented "The Fierce Urgency of Now," a musical accompaniment to various texts by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., performed by Childs and Wynton Marsalis as part of the inaugural concert series at the new Jazz at Lincoln Center venue).
Currently, Childs is working on various commissions and projects, including collaborations with the Kronos Quartet, a concert piece for the jazz/chamber ensemble to be performed at Duke University.