The Prickle (@ThePrickle) July 14, 2019
There are so many ways to describe this show, so let’s put it in one way: dynamic. Billy Childs had the honor of humbly and passionately hosting the set, sharing that the music of Laura Nyro encapsulated multiple genres, many of which we were able to pick out from the different tunes they played.
Billy Childs introduced Laura Nyro as a composer who had and has a longstanding effect on many established artists during and well after her time due to her hybrid approach to composition. Her music bursts with flavors from jazz, rhythm and blues, Broadway show-tunes, pop and soul, and was brilliantly showcased by a group of powerhouse musicians. Childs served as the kindest mentor and support system on keys, showing great understanding for her music, with notable contributions by handpicked musicians from your atypical jazz crew, including both a harpist (Carol Robbins) and a string quartet. So refreshing.
Among many other sub genres, there was a definite influence of musical theater in Nyro’s tunes, shared especially in Alicia Olatuja’s vocals. She showed us all in ‘New York Tendaberry’ and in ‘Map to the Treasure’, that she is undoubtedly made for this music. She was so incredibly tasteful in her approach to every tune she invited you into, her inflections matching the text flawlessly, and her voice interwoven into the rest of the composition seamlessly. It’s clear that she has a classical background, boasting a gorgeous mix throughout the tunes and in others giving just a taste of what it might sound like to hear her devour some R&B. McGarry and Olatuja made for the perfect duo. Although having very different instruments, through their choices they were so lovingly responsive to each other both in timbre and in harmony, a very good example of what it means to put each other, and the music, first. This audience member begs for a recording of ‘Save Our Country’, a heart-wrenching, yet hopeful lament-a piece very suitable for our time.
With reference to the rest of the band, guitarist Adam Rogers wowed the audience with his fluid and tasteful solos, Ulysses Owens Jr. and bassist Hans Glawischnig drove the rhythm section with intentionality on drums, and Steve Wilson brought intensity and soul with his virtuosic playing on flute, soprano and alto saxophone. Lucky for us, they are playing a four day stint, be sure to snatch a seat before the weekend is over!
Billy Childs’ Laura Nyro project concludes at the Jazz Standard tonight. More info here.