Billy Childs, The Winds of Change Review
by Jeff Becker
Billy Childs released his third Mack Avenue Records album, The Winds of Change. The 5-time GRAMMY® Award-winner created an all-star quartet comprised of trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Brian Blade. The composer and pianist include five of his original compositions alongside two arrangements from the jazz catalog.
“The Great Western Loop” opens the album with a textured up-tempo original by Childs. Childs has built a reputation for outstanding compositional skills. This tune has many elements and textures that have established his continual demand for symphonic and chamber commissions as a composer. He has also innovated a collection of compositions for jazz instrumentation, a genre he refers to as jazz/chamber music. Childs’ solo shows his fluidity and his ear for melody while he maintains the energy of the song.
Kenny Barron’s “The Black Angel” inspires a collective effort by the quartet to pay homage to jazz legends and their artistry. Childs’ piano style is one that reflects his understanding of orchestral balance and colors. His use of chords, arpeggios, and single lines creates a very full and dynamic sound. Likewise, the rhythm section’s strong chemistry makes the song feel organic and groove. “I wanted to return to a focus on my jazz piano playing,” Childs continues, “Acceptance is an extension of that, and the musicians make it very comfortable for me.”
The Winds of Change is an outstanding modern jazz album with many textures driven by Childs’ orchestrative and percussive piano playing. His compositions are adventurous, and the two arrange highly musical.