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Vermont Jazz Center Presents: Billy Childs Quartet

Press Release – Please give author’s credit to Eugene Uman, Vermont Jazz Center, 802 254 9088,

Billy Childs Quartet to Perform at the Vermont Jazz Center on Saturday, May 6th, 2017
Press Release date: April 22nd, 2017

Short Summary
Who: Virtuoso jazz pianist and composer, Billy Childs to perform in quartet setting.
With Billy Childs, piano; Dayna Stephens, saxophone; Hans Glawischnig, acoustic bass; Ari Hoenig, drums.
What: Original jazz and highly arranged standards, performed by some of the finest jazz musicians in the world. Promoting new recording, Rebirth.
When: Saturday, May 6th, 2017 at 8:00 PM
Where: The Vermont Jazz Center, 72 Cotton Mill Hill, #222, Brattleboro, VT 05301
Tickets available: online at, by email at, by phone 802 254 9088, in person at In The Moment, Main St., Brattleboro, VT.

Billy Childs Quartet to Perform Music From Their New Release, Rebirth, at the Vermont Jazz Center on Saturday, May 6th

The Vermont Jazz Center will present Billy Childs, one of the leading pianists, composers and arrangers of our time, on Saturday, May 6th at 8:00 PM. He will be performing with his quartet including saxophonist Dayna Stephens, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Ari Hoenig. Childs has earned thirteen Grammy nominations and four Grammy awards. He is also the recipient of Chamber Music America’s Composer’s Grant, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a music award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Several groups have commissioned Childs’s orchestral compositions, including the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Kronos Quartet, and the American Brass Quintet. Jazz critic Don Heckman writes: “Words fail in an effort to describe the complexities and the subtleties of Childs’s musical imagination which is far-reaching…Childs’ works do not simply place genres side by side. Instead they find a common, creative ground reminiscent of Rumi’s ‘community of spirit.’”

Childs has released 12 albums as a leader. Each one is unique and presents thematic material that focuses on meaningful concepts and illuminates his intelligent, heartfelt approach. Childs has appeared on hundreds of recordings with such luminaries as J.J. Johnson, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Wynton Marsalis, Renee Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Ron Carter, Gladys Knight, Chris Botti, Allan Holdsworth, Dianne Reeves, Grover Washington, Dori Caymmi, Lou Rawls, the Headhunters and Eddie Daniels. His penultimate recording, Map to the Treasure, Reimagining Laura Nyro, received two Grammy Awards and features Alison Krauss, Renée Fleming, Wayne Shorter and Diane Reeves.

What is it that makes Billy Childs a significant artist and earns him the respect and admiration of his peers? It is his gift, the combination of natural talent and hard-earned ability, it is his facility on the piano and his capacity to play and write anything that comes to his brilliant mind. But it is also his intention. Childs’ virtuosity is a given, but technique is meaningless without creative depth inspired by the will to produce and the vision to generate substantive repertoire. Childs’ choice of material and his careful approach to arranging elevates the effect of his music to such a degree that listening to it (especially live) connects us with the universal human spirit. The complexity of Childs’ arrangements are used deliberately to enhance the melodic content and shape the arc of the listening experience. In an interview that celebrated Childs’ recent inauguration as president of the board of directors of Chamber Music America, Childs stated: “My personal philosophy is that a beautiful melody, a strong melody, is a profound statement. It resembles a great sentence. It’s the most compelling feature of a lot of music. In my music, I try, above all, to create something compelling. And I feel that once an audience is invested in a melody, once they can relate to that, you’re free to be as complex and layered as you want underneath.”

Along with melodicism, another strong feature of Childs’ approach is his ability to blend seemingly disparate styles into one unified concept, thus making their juxtaposition sound natural. In his numerous recordings one finds clear examples of a variety of styles including straight ahead jazz, ballad, fusion, world music and classical. Childs was deeply influenced by the fusion sounds of Chick Corea’s Return to Forever, Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters and Keith Emerson’s work with ELP. The integration of fusion into Childs’ repertoire is most apparent in his early recordings, such as 1995’s I’ve Known Rivers, where he included synthesizers, electric bass and studio enhanced drum sounds. The music Childs is producing now is quite different; gone are the affects of 80s fusion, his sound is distilled but his vision is more expansive than ever. Although we are never far from his immediate access to the bebop language and his ability to communicate at blazing tempos, Childs’ recent recordings demonstrate an affinity for classical styles including intentional use of classical instrumentation, technique, and structures. He successfully marries classical forms with jazz and improvised music in such a way as to enhance the impact of his message rather than draw attention to style and technique. Childs’ mentors in classical composition were two renowned classical composers, Robert Linn (who studied with Darius Milhaud and Roger Sessions) and Morten Lauridsen, a recipient of the National Medal of the Arts. Childs continues to utilize the lessons of his mentors but he is now a master in his own right: A highly regarded, award-winning composer, arranger, teacher and clinician.

In a 2012 interview with pianist George Colligan for his blog, JazzTruth, their conversation steered towards Childs’ use of classical techniques to enhance his expressive palette. Childs stated: “One thing I dug about classical music is that because it had such command of a technical aspect of orchestration and all of these musical devices, it really lent itself to drama. You can really paint tonal pictures with it, with that command of orchestration and structure. You can create these cinema-scapes, these tonal soundscapes, just by understanding how the masters did it. So that was really invaluable to me.”

It is rewarding to listen for Childs’ use of time in his current projects. He discussed this process in an interview he conducted with Chamber Music America: “Some years ago, I got a commission to write for the Dorian Wind Quintet, for piano and wind quintet… I’d never worked with a world-class classical chamber ensemble before…And what I found was that these musicians really played as a group in a way I’d never experienced before. There was a different sense of time. Everyone was tuned in to each other; there was a give and take. If someone came in late, everyone accommodated. In jazz, the time is, in a way, external. You think: “Over there is the clock; we counted 1-2-3; that’s the time.” It’s outside of you and you adhere to it. Playing with the Dorian Quintet, we made up our own time; we ebbed and flowed together according to the necessities of the moment. It was a huge learning experience for me… At a certain point, I started to think: Why don’t I bring this process to a jazz ensemble?” When listening for it, one discovers this approach in Childs’ current writing for his jazz quartet. In some of his arrangements there are places where the time intentionally breathes rather than adhering to a metronomic count; this devise has become one of the newer identifiable ingredients of Childs’ ensemble sound.

This is not to imply that Childs’ music lacks a sense of swing. Quite the opposite, his musical development as a youth included tours with hard-bop jazz legends concurrent with his classical, academic training. His first serious experiences were with jazz legends and dyed-in-the-wool heavy weight swingers J.J. Johnson (with whom he recorded At Yokohama and Concepts in Blue) and Freddie Hubbard (Skagly, Live at North Sea Jazz Festival). In the liner notes for his new album Rebirth, Childs reflects on his experience playing in two of the most intense, aggressive, hard bop ensembles when he was only in his early twenties: “J.J. and Freddie are responsible for the jazz part of my pedigree…I learned about comping from Freddie … I learned to expand accompanying into creating environments for the soloists…You couldn’t listen to him and not know what to play.” Childs remained a member of Hubbard’s ensemble for six years. The influence of hard bop on Childs’ music is undeniable and is reflected in his penchant to deconstruct and re-harmonize jazz standards. Furthermore, the thread of excitement in Childs’ work and his appreciation for muscular playing provides a perfect balance to his more introspective and delicate selections.

Along with Childs on piano, the band will feature saxophonist Dayna Stephens. He has collaborated with pianists Brad Mehldau, Taylor Eigsti, Muhal Richard Abrams, Kenny Barron, Theo Hill, Gerald Clayton and Aaron Parks; drummers Brian Blade, Al Foster, Idris Muhammad, Marvin “Boogaloo” Smith, Eric Harland, Matt Slocum and Justin Brown; trumpeters Roy Hargrove, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Michael Rodriguez; saxophonists Jaleel Shaw, Ben Wendel, Chris Potter, John Ellis and Walter Smith III; bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Joe Sanders, Linda Oh, Doug Weiss and Larry Grenadier; vocalists Gretchen Parlato, Becca Stevens and Sachal Vasandani; and guitarists Julian Lage and Lage Lund. The New York Times heralded Stephens as a “must see,” and wrote “Everything flows with unusual fluency and makes you feel rewarded.” Stephens has also released five discs as a leader.

The bassist in Childs’ quartet is Austrian-born Hans Glawischnig. Glawischnig relocated to the United States to accept a scholarship at Berklee School of Music and then to New York to attend the M.A. program at Manhattan School of Music. In 1995, he was hired to fill the bass chair in Bobby Watson’s Urban Renewal and then joined Maynard Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau. He was with Ray Barretto’s New World Spirit with whom he recorded two albums. Glawischnig’s involvement with Latin music lead to engagements with Paquito D’Riviera, Dave Samuels, David Sanchez, Claudia Acuna and Bobby Sanabria. He also continued to play in ensembles with Rick Margitza, Garry Dial, Billy Harper, Richie Beirach, Billy Hart, Joe Locke, Dave Binney, Adam Rogers, Steffon Harris, Claudio Roditi, Billy Drewes, Jamey Haddad, Brian Lynch, Phil Woods and others. He joined Miguel Zenon’s group and played bass on four of Zenon’s critically acclaimed recordings. Chick Corea hired Glawischnig to participate in a project commemorating Mozart’s 250th anniversary. The ensemble performed across Europe for the summer of 2006. The rapport in the rhythm section was so unique that Glawischnig invited Corea and drummer Marcus Gilmore to play on his most recent recording project, Panorama. Glawischnig continues to work as a first call bassist for many of the top names in jazz.

Drummer Ari Hoenig attended University of North Texas for three years and then transferred to William Patterson College in northern New Jersey. He soon found himself playing for legendary Philadelphia organist Shirley Scott and working regularly in New York City. Shortly thereafter, Hoenig moved to Brooklyn and found himself playing extensively with a variety of groups, including Jean Michel Pilc Trio, Kenny Werner Trio, Chris Potter’s Underground, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Joshua Redman’s Elastic band, Jazz Mandolin Project and bands led by Wayne Krantz, Mike Stern, Richard Bona, Pat Martino, and Bojan Z. He has also shared the stage with Herbie Hancock, Ivan Linz, Wynton Marsalis, Toots Thielemans, Dave Holland, Joe Lovano, and Gerry Mulligan and others. He recorded two self-produced solo drum CDs that document his exploratory nature and represent an ambitious tribute to the melodic possibilities of the drum set. The Ari Hoenig Quartet was formed at the end of 2002 while playing every Monday night at the New York Village jazz club Fat Cat. This group has produced six highly acclaimed recordings. In 2013, Hoenig won the prestigious BMW Welt [World] award in Munich, an international competition for best band led by a drummer.

Billy Childs is coming to the Jazz Center as part of a tour to promote his newly released recording Rebirth. Instead of performing with a cadre of singers, an orchestra or a string quartet, he is reaching back to his roots to when he performed with J.J. Johnson, Freddie Hubbard and Joe Henderson. When asked about the concept for this new album and tour, Childs responded: “I’m revisiting some familiar ground with different musical eyes. My playing is more evolved, now influenced by newer musical trends. You’re hearing something on this album that I love doing but that I haven’t done a lot of lately: Having musical conversations as a member of a group. That’s what I love.”

Come find out why Billy Childs loves this on May 6th at the Vermont Jazz Center. This concert will likely sell out, so purchase your tickets in advance. The VJC is especially grateful for the sponsorship of this event by a friend of the Vermont Jazz Center’s Summer Jazz Workshop. His generous contribution made this concert possible and for this, the Jazz Center is deeply grateful. The VJC is also thankful for the ongoing support from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, Hampton Inn of Brattleboro. VJC publicity is underwritten by the Brattleboro Reformer, WVPR, WVEW, WFCR and Chris Lenois of WKVT’s Green Mountain Mornings.

Tickets for the Billy Childs Quartet at the Vermont Jazz Center are $20+ general admission, $15 for students with I.D. (contact VJC about educational discounts); available at In the Moment in Brattleboro, or online at, by email at Tickets can also be reserved by calling the Vermont Jazz Center ticket line, 802-254-9088, ext. 1. Handicapped access is available by calling the VJC at 802 254 9088.

Audio Sampler of newest album – Rebirth:

Video Examples:

With Becca Stevens singing Laura Nero’s “Confession”

“Map to the Treasure” with Alicia Olatuja

Billy Childs Trio – “Dolphin Dance”

Example of Childs’ Chamber Jazz, “Raindrop Patterns”

Interview with Billy Childs

Billy Childs with Freddie Hubbard in 1981 (age 24)

With Hubbard in ’78 (age 21)