By Sergio Berrueta
The Billy Childs Quartet lit up the chilly November air with an innovative jazz sound at the First Friday Jazz Concert on Nov. 7 at the S2 Recital Hall.
Childs stepped out to the stage with his band introducing them individually before going into the first tune of the night, “Mount Olympus,” a song originally written by Childs.
The entire concert was filled with original works rather than covers seen in past jazz concerts.
“Mount Olympus” gave a strong and demanding start with a delightful rhythm of hard rock drums from Joey Heredia.
Katisse Buckingham led the charge with his melodic saxophone playing.
Childs, on piano, guided the tune a tad, but sounded drowned out due to a technical issue, which was resolved by the next song.
The next tune is what Childs called “Brazilian Tune” since it did not have a title. He was correct in giving it that title.
Buckingham switched to the flute to begin playing a sweet Latin inspired sound while Childs accompanied on the keys giving a softer tone to the tune with Heredia’s drums giving a fast paced tempo.
In “This Moment,” the loud vivacious sounds changed to rhythm and blues sounds for a quaint ballad.
Buckingham got back on Alto sax to give a sultry and sensual sound.
The song is reminiscent of Earth, Wind and Fire’s classic “After the Love is Gone” with a soft sound, a subtle bass by Hamilton and Childs sweet and sensational playing of the piano.
Another untitled tune acted as a bridge between “This Moment” and the next song, “The Starry Night” with a return to Brazilian sounds. It’s a manic and quick song with a collision of drums and flute going in a climatic end.
“The next song is…well, a complicated tune,” Childs said as the band started laughing. “If we screw it up, well, at least we tried.”
The song is a complex composition with a lone bass introduction with Childs slowly joining in on piano and it builds to an odd creative sound from the drums in a blend of jazz and funk.
The tempo throughout the song changed from a hard driving sound to relaxed and soothing.
Childs got to stand out from the pack as the song goes on different routes on an almost galactic trip.
“Jazz Mania” was introduced by Childs in a comedic way. “I wrote this after visiting Jazz Mania One, which was a cool club in Brazil. Unfortunately, I don’t remember anything about it, so I wrote a piece to try and remember,” Childs said.
The Latin rhythm came back into play with Buckingham back on the flute. Hamilton began to show off and take center stage with an amplified tone.
The free-form rushed style dazzled the crowd with flute and piano trying to keep up with the drum’s constant furious pace.
On “An Afterthought,” the band embarked on a funkadelic-type of sound with Hamilton thumping away on bass with Buckingham letting loose on the flute. As the drums began to build, Childs switched to keys to give a slight groove with Buckingham moving to cowbell to calm the fever of funk down.
“Afterthought” started to get a bit softer with Heredia only hitting the rims of the drums and humorously hitting the music stands to catch the audience off guard.
The song ended with the most unexpected moment of Buckingham playing the flute and beat boxing at the same time. After the song, Childs tries to beat box himself to humor the band with the audience laughing at his attempt.
Childs and Buckingham decided to provide a somber release on the duet “Stay,” a ballad.
“Stay” is a sobering tune. Childs began the piece with a melancholic sound with Buckingham entering with his own sad tone.
Childs’ piano got time in the spotlight on a thrilling and gorgeous solo. Buckingham waited for him to finish in order to give back the sobering tone. It settled the audience before the final piece.
The mood of “Stay” continued to the untitled final piece with Hamilton and Heredia returning to the front.
Heredia decided to change the tone by taking the slow tone back to the manic pace that greeted the audience at first.
The song builds with alto and drums collaborating in a spectacular show of high notes and pounding of drums.
The band suddenly stopped to give Childs a solo with Hamilton coming in toward the end to give a unique take.
The way Hamilton played on this song made it sound like the bass was singing with a pumping bassline. Heredia sneaked in on drums again with alto slowly following to end the song on a soft note.
The concert came to a close with Childs thanking the crowd with the audience providing a standing ovation.
First Friday Jazz Concerts are held every first Friday of the month at the S2 Recital Hall. The final concert will be held on December 5 with the ELAC Jazz Band. The performance will be free to the public.