In his latest recorded musical venture, Grammy-winning jazz pianist Billy Childs takes on the music legacy of Laura Nyro–and the result is an impressive, wide-ranging musical tribute to the work of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame singer-songwriter.
When Childs was only 11-years-old, his older sister introduced him to the work of Laura Nyro. Her jazz-influenced R&B melodies and socially-aware lyrics created a long-lasting, indelible musical impression on him.
Now, through conceiving and orchestrating this new album, Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro, Billy Childs has revisited his early source of musical inspiration, assembling an incredible range of musicians, who join him in celebrating her musical narratives.
This recording is the complete musical experience, from the impassioned voices of Alison Krause, Lisa Fischer, Ledisi, Esperanza Spaulding, Rickie Lee Jones, Shawn Colvin, Dianne Reeves, Susan Tedeschi, Becca Stevens, and classical soprano Renee Fleming, to the featured instrumental soloists Chris Botti, Yo-Yo Ma, Wayne Shorter, Jerry Douglas, Chris Potter and Steve Wilson.
With the assistance of Grammy-winner producer extraordinaire Larry Klein, Billy Childs has cast the right musicians for the setting, integrating and orchestrating each song into one musical unit that flows seamlessly into each other.
From the beginning, when classical soprano Renee Fleming and cellist Yo-Yo Ma bring new life to her “New York Tendaberry,” to Shawn Colvin and Chris Botti taking on “Save the Country,” to Dianne Reeves offering her interpretation of “To a Child,” Billy Childs supplies graceful, imaginative arrangements and his ever skillful playing.
Lisa Fischer, a featured performer in the Oscar-winning documentary “20 Feet from Stardom,” is a standout as well, offering “Map to the Treasure” with a tour de force performance, notable for its marked nuances and breathtaking vocal changes.
Every performance is stellar on here – Rickie Lee Jones’ “Been On a Train,” Ledisi on “Stoned Soul Picnic,” Becca Stevens with “The Confession,” Alison Krause’s “And When I Die,” Esperanza Spaulding on “Upstairs By a Chinese Lamp,” and Susan Tedeschi with “Gibsom Street.”
Rather than relegating Nyro to the “woman-singer songwriter” category, Billy Childs ultimately emerges as an interpreter of the music of Laura Nyro, revering her as the brilliant, composer she was.
Thank you, Billy Childs and company. I highly recommend this CD and will spend endless hours enjoying and experiencing the music of Laura Nyro.