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Billy Childs Ensemble - Autumn In Moving Pictures

Billy Childs Ensemble .:|:. Autumn: In Moving Pictures – [ArtistShare, 2010]

Billy Childs had falling leaves on his mind when he began to think about the music for his new ArtistShare CD, “Autumn: In Moving Pictures.” The GRAMMY-winning pianist composer was driving in upstate New York in October. “And I kept watching the trees as they rushed by the window, ” he recalls. ‘Just beautiful. It was the source of why this whole album exists. Being from Los Angeles, you hardly ever see colors like that. So when you do, it makes a real profound impression.”

Impressionism, in fact, is the feeling that pervades “Autumn: In Moving Pictures, ” Childs’ second album for ArtistShare, as well as the second collection of compositions and orchestrations for his jazz chamber ensemble. The music, composed for piano, acoustic guitar, sax, flute, harp, bass, drums, string quartet and woodwind quintet, in varying combinations, is rich with atmospheric timbres — a series of musical portraits evoking not just the colorful leaves of autumn, but the season itself in all its multiplicity of sensations.

The idea of a jazz chamber ensemble has always been close to Childs’ creative heart. He describes it, jokingly as “a weird combination of harp, string quartet, saxophone, jazz rhythm section — a kind of music that’s rooted more in third stream and fusion, a hybrid form.” A “hybrid form” that’s been tried at various times throughout jazz history, as far back as Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue, ” the “third stream” efforts of Gunther Schuller, George Russell and John Lewis and the Modern Jazz Quartet in the ‘50s and ‘60s and the fusion of ‘70s and ‘80s groups such as Weather Report and Return To Forever.

Like the best of those efforts, Childs has followed his own path into a creative land of his own imagining. A land in which the free-flowing spontaneity of jazz shares comfortable, common ground with the far-ranging timbres and complex structures of classical music. When he began to think about Vol. 2 of his Jazz Chamber Music, and “Autumn: In Moving Pictures” became the focus, the piece that led the way was “The Path Among the Trees, ” the album’s opening track. “It had a kind of autumnal vibe from the beginning, recalls Childs. “I kind of thought that was a cool theme that I could really get into creatively, especially given the instrumentation. Harp and guitar just to me sound like leaves falling and winds blowing and things in nature.”The floating, shimmering sounds of the work immediately motivated Childs to “direct the compositions to that type of aesthetic.” Other pieces followed. “Raindrop Patterns” takes a similar pattern; “Red Wheel Barrow” was inspired by the famous, haiku-like poem by William Carlos Williams. “A Man Chasing the Horizon, ” written as a commission from Chamber Music America, takes somewhat of a side path from Childs’ “autumnal vibe.” “It goes, ” he says, “in a multitude of directions.” “Prelude In E Minor” touches gently upon the Impressionistic aspects of Childs’ creative vision with a middle section inspired by Ravel’s “Le Tombeau de Couperin.” The final two pieces are orchestrations of intriguingly disparate pieces of music. Faure’s “Pavane, ” one of the most frequently played classical pieces, and “Waltz For Debby” is the famous Bill Evans composition.

Recognized as an important, rising young talent almost immediately after his graduation from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Music in Composition degree in 1979, Childs has been recording and/or performing since then with the likes of Freddie Hubbard, J.J. Johnson, Joe Henderson, Alan Holdsworth, Eddie Daniels, Dianne Reeves, Yo Yo Ma, Sting and Chris Botti. By the early ‘90s, he was receiving continuing composition commissions. Among them: “Tone Poem for Holly, ” “Fanfare for the United Races of America” and “For Suzanne” for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, “The Distant Land” and “Just Like Job” for the Akron Symphony, “The Fierce Urgency Of Now” for Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and “The Voices of Angels” for the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

In 2006, the first volume of Childs’ jazz chamber ensemble recordings for ArtistShare – “Lyric” – was nominated for three GRAMMYS, receiving an Award for Best Instrumental Composition for the work, “Into The Light.” He also received a second Grammy that year for Best Arrangement Accompanying A Vocalist. In 2009, he was the recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition.

The ensemble: Billy Childs – piano; Larry Koonse – guitars; Bob Sheppard – saxophone and clarinet; Carol Robbins – harp, Scott Colley – bass, Antonio Sanchez – drums, Brian Blade – drums and the Ying String Quartet.

Visit http://www.billychilds.com/ for more information!