Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Billy Childs, The Winds of Change, Mack Avenue *****

Seriously - does jazz get any better? Featuring covers of 'The Black Angel' by Kenny Barron and 'Crystal Silence' by Chick Corea - the latter has a sumptuous Ambrose Akinmusire solo - plus US pianist Billy Childs' own tunes steeped in nostalgia, …

Published: 28 Feb 2023. Updated: 16 months.

Seriously - does jazz get any better? Featuring covers of 'The Black Angel' by Kenny Barron and 'Crystal Silence' by Chick Corea - the latter has a sumptuous Ambrose Akinmusire solo - plus US pianist Billy Childs' own tunes steeped in nostalgia, this quartet affair (the Childs band completed by bassist Scott Colley and by drummer Brian Blade) the leader takes inspiration in movie score noir. This sits more than well alongside Charlie Haden's Quartet West navigations of the dark romance of classic Hollywood psychological drama - the difference is the more expansive style that Childs injects. While only a small group record it sounds so orchestral and scaled up therein lies the skill of the writing and the open architecture of the group interplay. Deserves every award and honour going.

'The End of Innocence' is streaming ahead of the full album's release on 17 March

MORE READING:

Billy Childs' Acceptance - review, 2020

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Taj Mahal, Savoy, Stony Plain Records ***1/2

What a voice. What a feeling. Not an album for intellectualising over but built for unabashed enjoyment instead veteran blues man Taj Mahal goes pretty much jazz certainly in terms of the choice of tunes and all points adjacent much more than usual …

Published: 28 Feb 2023. Updated: 16 months.

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What a voice. What a feeling. Not an album for intellectualising over but built for unabashed enjoyment instead veteran blues man Taj Mahal goes pretty much jazz certainly in terms of the choice of tunes and all points adjacent much more than usual here on a very enjoyable romp through a whole load of standards that you would have thought are just too familiar to work but do given the tilt Mahal and pals bring to it. So riffing against backing singers on 'Stompin’ at the Savoy' it's so laid back it's horizontal. Maria Muldaur guests on a stately ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ while violinist Evan Price picks up some choice spots especially effective on 'Baby Won't You Please Come Home.' Recorded in an Oakland, California, studio with Taj (real name Henry St. Claire Fredericks Jr who turned 80 last year) Danny Caron is on guitar; Ruth Davies on the bass; album producer John Simon on piano; and Leon Joyce, Jr is on drums as the core unit with guests joining in. Taj's harmonica playing on the rolling 'Caldonia' is one of the best bits and 'Lady Be Good' is another highlight when Taj scats. A fun listen. Out on 28 April. 'Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby' is streaming ahead of release. Taj Mahal, photo: via G Promo