Acceptance / Billy Childs
There have been two hallmarks—standards, if you will—that have been a part of every Billy Childs album. The first is the journey he’s traveled as a composer. He has always written music and to great acclaim: he has received five GRAMMY® Awards and 16 nominations, many for composition and arrangement. Presently in continual demand for symphonic and chamber commissions, he has also innovated a collection of compositions for jazz instrumentation and strings that is unique in the American music lexicon: a genre he refers to as jazz/chamber music. But for the second hallmark, Childs has always been a player, too—having cultivated his jazz voice in the working bands of trombonist J.J. Johnson and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard.
“On my first Mack Avenue recording, Rebirth (Childs’ 2017 album on Mack Avenue Records which won a GRAMMY® Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album), I wanted to return to a focus on my jazz piano playing,” Childs states. “Acceptance is an extension of that, and the musicians make it very comfortable for me.” Childs thrives on group improvisation and has recruited fellow master musicians—saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Eric Harland—as the core ensemble for this collection: Acceptance. Elena Pinderhughes on flute; vocalists Alicia Olatuja, Aubrey Johnson and Sara Gazarek; and percussionists Rogerio Boccato and Munyungo Jackson complete the stellar lineup on this recording.
Acceptance, Billy Childs follow up to 2017's Rebirth, his Grammy-winning Mack Avenue outing, doesn't follow the path of its predecessor. It is more exotic in exploring chamber jazz, post-bop, fusion, and samba, with dramatic ballads, passionate vocals, and sophisticated pop woven in. The title cut commences as a poignant ballad erected from folk melodies. After resonant bass and keyboard solos from Glawischnig and Childs, saxophonist Steve Wilson enters, seamlessly shifting the band toward a soulful blues. The biggest surprise is "Leimert Park." Co-composed by Childs, bassist Paul Jackson, and drummer Mike Clark (the rhythm section of Herbie Hancock & Headhunters), it's a fusion jam that weaves trancelike synth and Rhodes vamps and rhythmic cadences, crisscrossing much musical terrain.
As a next chapter, Acceptance is as much a band showcase as it is one for Childs' tunes. Their intimate, almost instinctive communication is at once a calling card and an invitation to adventure.
Catalog Number: MAC1176
Label: Mack Avenue
Number of Discs: 1