Billy Childs’ impressionistic approach to jazz

Mar 6, 2012

Billy Childs on the piano. Credit: ilmungo/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

In his latest recording, Autumn: In Moving Pictures, jazz composer/pianist Billy Childs says he hoped to capture “the movement of autumn – wind blowing leaves as they spiral through the air…the drumming of the rain as it hits the brown earth, the stillness of a lonely red wheelbarrow.” This impressionistic quality, translated to music, might very well be one definition of jazz; Childs writes that he hopes “to create a world of autumn as my mind sees and remembers it…different from yours; the world you’d create, in your mind, from listening to this music would look different from what is in my mind.”

This Sunday, Childs will create those worlds onstage at Disney Concert Hall, in performance with San Francisco-based string quartet Kronos. Los Angeles native Childs began playing piano at age six, and started his professional career as a teenager. He graduated from USC and spent six years playing with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. Childs cites both jazz and classical composers as influences: Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky among them.

He has released over a dozen albums, both as a solo artist and with his own Jazz-Chamber Ensemble, which merges jazz and classical elements and instrumentation. He has received numerous Grammy Awards and has had works commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Los Angeles Master Chorale, among others. Childs joins Larry Mantle to discuss his amazing career and collaborations and his upcoming Disney Hall performance.


Billy Childs, Grammy-winning jazz pianist, composer and arranger

Billy Childs Quartet, Kronos Quartet and Bill Frisell’s Beautiful Dreamers perform at Disney Concert Hall this Sunday, March 11th, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets available here.

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