Billy Childs, The Winds of Change Review
by Nolan DeBuke
Billy Childs built a fantastic quartet to create his third release for Mack Avenue Records called The Winds of Change . The quartet is Childs on piano as well as the composer for five of the seven songs, Scott Colley on bass, Brian Blade on drums, and Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet. Childs’ music is a blend of modern jazz, soul, chamber music, choral, orchestral, and even pop. The originals and covers are inspired by the mystery and intrigue of film noir soundtracks. With 5 GRAMMY® Awards, Childs again shows why he is a celebrated jazz artist throughout the project.
The title track is an example of Childs’ compositional style that bridges the before mentioned styles. Initially, the composition was created for the late Roy Hargrove and the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra. Childs’ piano style is modern, emphasizing colors and melody. The rhythm team of Blade and Colley provides a feel that supports both Childs and Akinmusire during their solos. The quartet’s dynamics, interactions and Childs’ creative composition makes for a powerful modern jazz listen.
Childs’ “Master of the Game” is constructed with a building melody that has Childs and Akinmusire working together to deliver the theme through its many sections. The composition’s ebb and flow build interest and pushes past the simple head to solos form of many jazz tunes. During Childs’ solo, Blade and Colley work to accompany the many elements and textures that Childs creates, continuing the theme of the melody. This is the type of cohesive playing that is throughout the album.
The Winds of Change is a delightful listen that plays well as a whole or as individual songs. The ensemble is on point and interactive and works together to create meaningful musical ideas and passages. The result is something unique and exciting.