Billy Childs: Map to the Treasure-Reimagining Laura Nyro

Pianist/arranger Billy Childs has been building up an impressive catalogue of his own with intriguing chamber jazz recordings. He’s also done tons of work for the likes of Sting, Chris Botti and Dianne Reeves, and this new release has Childs seemingly go through his iphone list of connections to put together a collection of tunes composed by 70s all-too-young-departed Laura Nyro. From a collection of vocalists that includes Reeves (on “To A Child”), Rickie Lee Jones (“Been on a Train”), Ledisi (“Stone Cold Picnic”) and Esperanza Spalding (“Upstairs by a Chinese Lamp”) you get a collection of moods ranging from brooding strings to hippie movement ferver.

Some deep atmospheres are evoked by Renee Fleming’s rich voice and Yo-Yo Ma’s strings on “New York Tendaberry” while Cumberland Gap airs are exposed by Alison Krauss and Jerry Douglas on “And When I Die.” Childs’ piano is more felt than observed, but he brings in the right guests to blow with him in the likes of Wayne Shorter , Chris Potter and Chris Botti when they share their wares. Nyro’s lyricism in both word and melody are treated with respect  yet not sterility. An excellent port to Nyro’s territory.

Sony Masterworks

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