Sunday, September 7, 2014

Billy Childs, Friends ReImagine Laura Nyro

Map To The Treasure:
ReImagining Laura Nyro
With Billy Childs, Chris Botti, Shawn Colvin, 
Renee Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma,
Rickie Lee Jones, Alison Krauss,
Dianne Reeves, Esperanza Spalding
Wayne Shorter, Susan Tedeschi
Produced by Larry Klein
Sony Masterworks
Five Scoops of Bosco

Reviewed by Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

It's hard to imagine 1960's and 70's Pop Music without the quiet influence of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer/songwriter Laura Nyro.

Her undeniable stamp is left on the two decades and continues to inspire singer/songwriters today.

Nyro, who died from Ovarian Cancer at the age of 49 in 1997, is credited with penning or performing some of the most recognizable hit songs of the two decades.  Those songs include "When I Die" (Blood Sweat & Tears), "Wedding Bell Blues", "Blowing Away" and "Stoned Soul Picnic" (Fifth Dimension), "Stoney End" and "Time and Love" (Barbra Streisand) and "Eli's Coming" (Three Dog Night).

Stellar artists from Chet Atkins, Maynard Ferguson, Carmen McRae, The Roches, Linda Ronstadt, Frank Sinatra, and Phoebe Snow also recorded Nyro's music.

Artists that have publicly said they were influenced by her music are as diverse as Steely Dan,  Jenny Lewis, Joni Mitchell, Alice Cooper and Elvis Costello.

As an artist, Nyro's Eli and the Thirteenth Confession (1968), New York Tendaberry (1969), Christmas and the Beads of Sweat (1970) albums are absolute classics but her Gonna Take A Miracle album from 1971 where she sings her favorite R&B songs acapella with Patti LaBelle & The Blue Belles was a great collaboration which propelled the LaBelle Sisters to superstar status.

Perhaps Nyro's most recognized single, and also her best selling, was her take on Carole King and Gerry Goffin's "Up On the Roof".

Among those that were influenced and inspired by Nyro's music was jazz/classical composer and pianist Billy Childs who used to listen to his older sister's Laura Nyro records as a youngster.

Child and friends re-imagine her music on Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro  This tribute album is due out on Sept. 9.

Map To The Treasure is produced by Larry Klein who also produced the 2008 Grammy-Winning Tribute to the music of Joni Mitchell,  River: The Joni Letters

The album features contributions from artists spanning a wide range of genres including Renee Fleming (Opera), Esperanza Spalding (Jazz),  Susan Tedeschi (Blues) Yo-Yo Ma (Classical), Ledisi (R&B), Wayne Shorter (Jazz) , Alison Krauss (Blue Grass), Jerry Douglas (Americana) and Rickie Lee Jones (Jazz, Blues, Pop and Rock).

Perhaps it's fitting that different and varied genres are represented here.  Nyro's style covered pop, jazz, gospel, rock, soul and R&B.

Krauss (Vocals) and Douglas (Dobro) join Childs (Piano) on a slowed-down, beautiful and reverential version of “And When I Die” which is the polar opposite to the upbeat Blood, Sweat and Tears version (sung by David Clayton Thomas) that most of us are accustomed.

Map to the Treasure.... also includes Renee Fleming singing a sensual rendition of  “New York Tendaberry” with an assist from cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Spalding and Shorter perform “Upstairs by a Chinese Lamp” and Shawn Colvin sings “Save the Country” with help on horns from Chris Botti.

Rickie Lee Jones takes on "Been On A Train" while Ledisi stays probably closest to the original in her funky rendition of "Stoned Soul Picnic".

Susan Tedeschi gets away from her blues roots in her jazzy take of "Gibsom Street".

For the fans of Laura Nyro and the fans of the artists she inspired this album is a must listen.

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