‘The Winds of Change’ is jazz to consider while it moves you.
MackAvenue Records MAC1200
Billy Childs (piano); Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet); Scott Colley (bass); Brian Blade (drums)
‘The Winds of Change’ is a post-bop album of beautiful, vibrant jazz where each song is a deep current on those same winds of change. Childs’ classical music leanings are in full evidence on this recording. Those leanings give Childs’ compositions and piano playing a concerto-like presence.
Billy Childs wrote all the songs on the album, save for Chick Corea’s Crystal Silence and Kenny Barron’s The Black Angel. Although this album features Childs signature piano, his stellar band provides all the counterpoint, support, and presence to make each song on the album sound fully alive.
The Great Western Loop is hard-bop but is a hard-bop fused with a classical music approach. The opening track leaps into your ears with both bravado and sensitivity, Child’s piano races along and slows only to let the trumpet catch up. Accomplished trumpeter, Ambrose Akinmusire, soul-fully answers Childs with his soulful solo.
The Winds of Change opens with a piano flourish directly from a romantic-era sonata and is the trumpet swiftly answers with an equally stately response. Brian Blade’s almost orchestral per-cussion adds even more grandeur to the song. The middle part of the song slides away from clas-sical into familiar post-bop territory, while it continues its playful dance.
In the End of Innocence, the piano starts a plaintive melody and trumpet answers with long-ingly melodic phrasing. The tonal and melodic differences between piano and trumpet juxtapose against each other, but Childs’ graceful piano solo tells the real story in this song. The trumpet restates itself in a more muted, almost Miles Davis-like tone. Bassist Scott Colley continues the line of the trumpet solo into piano and trumpet combined voices that sail into a hopeful coda.
Whereas Chick Corea’s and Gary Burton’s original ‘Crystal Silence’ is a delicate dance between piano and vibraphone, Corea’s piano leading the dance, Akinmusire’s trumpet adds more sustain and drive to the song without losing any of its beauty.
Childs’ piano bubbles and suggests further concerto-notes under the trumpet line. Even the addition of soft bass and drums don’t diminish how lovely the song is. It’s a reinterpretation of the original in every sense of the world.
Kenny Barron’s The Black Angel returns to the approach of the album’s opening track, with piano and drums almost marching in place together at times. Childs’ piano dances across the song, again joined by dancing and rolling drums, to build towards the song’s climax.
In the end, listening to this album is akin to taking a voyage on its titular winds of change with no destination, save for its music. The four musicians on the album sound bigger and larger than their quartet would propose. The songs are the musical equivalent of a flavorful and nuanced meal, despite the meal’s compact list of ingredients. ‘The Winds of Change’ is jazz to consider while it moves you.
Reviewed by Ben Miller