5-time Grammy Winner to Perform UT Art Tatum Memorial Concert

Daily Dose  |  02/13/2018 1:00 pm

The University of Toledo Department of Music will hold its annual Art Tatum Memorial Jazz Scholarship Concert, Wednesday, February 21 at 7 p.m. This year’s guest jazz pianist is Billy Childs, winner of 5 Grammy Awards, including the award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for “Rebirth” at this year’s 60th Grammy Awards.

Since his first recordings of the 1980s, Billy Childs has developed into one of the most distinctive and distinguished composers of our time. An accomplished symphonic writer, he has also amassed a career's worth of jazz originals that can swing hard, dazzle with intricacy, touch with direct simplicity, or mesmerize with crystalline lyricism. On his new Mack Avenue debut album Rebirth, Childs reaches back to the start of his almost astoundingly varied musical experience-leading a small jazz band of state-of-the-art musicians with his piano playing.

At his musical core, Childs is an improvising pianist. He has the ability to equally distill the harmonic and rhythmic languages of classical music and jazz into his playing. The wide-ranging vocabulary on the taut track "Tightrope" begs the question of Childs' love of classical music; "I'm not just jazz," he stresses. His insistent pulse and melodically probing introduction to song is a key to the Childs' musical identity: open to extended harmonic possibilities as they come along, taking a flexible approach to time and leaving an open door for input from his bandmates.

The concert will be held in the UT Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall and a cash bar will be available. Tickets are $20 each and are available at the door and through the UT Center for Performing Arts Box Office at 419.530.ARTS (2787) as well as online at www.utoledo.Tix.com All proceeds from the concert benefit the UT Department of Music’s Art Tatum Memorial Jazz Scholarship program. This scholarship is awarded to African American students pursuing a degree in jazz performance at UT.

BILLY CHILDS BIOGRAPHY

Jazz pianist/composer Billy Childs remains one of the most diversely prolific and acclaimed artists working in music today. Childs’ canon of original compositions and arrangements has garnered him the 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship (2009), fourteen Grammy nominations, and four Grammy awards, most recently for Best Arrangement, Instrumental & Vocal (featuring Renée Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma) in 2015 for ‘New York Tendaberry’, from his highly successful release Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro. Previously he won Best Instrumental Composition for ‘The Path Among the Trees’ (2011) and ‘Into The Light’ (2005), from his much-heralded jazz/chamber releases, Autumn: In Moving Pictures and Lyric. Downbeat magazine states, “...Childs’ jazz/chamber group has taken the jazz-meets classical format to a new summit.”

Born in Los Angeles in 1957, Childs was already proficient at the piano by age 6; he was accepted in USC’s Community School For The Performing Arts at age 16, studying music theory and piano with some of the world’s most renowned musical scholars. He graduated from USC in 1979 with a degree in composition. Among Childs’ early influences: Herbie Hancock, Keith Emerson, Chick Corea and others. He credits classical composers such as Paul Hindemith, Maurice Ravel, and Igor Stravinsky for also influencing his love of composition. Child’s performing career was also enriched with early-career apprenticeships with legendary jazz trombonist J.J. Johnson, and trumpet great Freddie Hubbard, in the late 1970s/early 1980s.

Childs released his first solo album, Take For Example, This… in 1988, on Windham Hill Jazz Records. It was the first of four raved-about albums on the imprint, culminating with the acclaimed Portrait Of A Player, in 1993. In 1995 Childs’ released I’ve Known Rivers on Stretch/GRP Records. In 1996 he released The Child Within on Shanachie Records. Songs from both recordings garnered his first Grammy nominations.

Childs’ multiple musical interests also include collaborations, arrangements, and productions for other acclaimed artists, including Yo Yo Ma, The Kronos Quartet, Wynton Marsalis, Sting, Chris Botti, and Leonard Slatkin, among others. He has received orchestral commissions from The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Los Angeles Master Chorale, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and The Lincoln Jazz Center Orchestra. In 2013 he premiered “Enlightened Souls” a commission from Duke University featuring Dianne Reeves and the Ying Quartet, to commemorate fifty years of African-American students attending the school. In 2016, he premiered the piano quintet, "The Bird, The River, The Storm", also with the Ying Quartet (a piece they commissioned).

In 2014 Childs released Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro (Sony Masterworks), which was produced by Larry Klein and features Reneé Fleming, Esperanza Spalding, Alison Krauss, Shawn Colvin, Rickie Lee Jones, Becca Stevens, Ledisi, Chris Botti, Yo-Yo Ma and Susan Tedeschi. In Spring 2017, he reached back to his jazz roots with Rebirth, a quartet album and his debut on the Mack Avenue label.



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