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Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro

4.5 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro

Composer/Arranger/Pianist Billy Childs leads an All-Star interpretation of
Songwriter Laura Nyro's beloved works

Featuring Guest Artists Renee Fleming, Esperanza Spalding,
Yo-Yo Ma, Alison Krauss, Ledisi, Wayne Shorter and more

When Grammy Award®-winning musician Billy Childs was 11 years old, his older sisters introduced him to the work of Songwriter and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame singer-songwriter Laura Nyro. Her blend of Broadway-inspired melodies, jazz improvisation and socially conscious lyrics have stayed with him. Now Billy has returned to his early source of inspiration, conceiving and orchestrating his new album, "Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro."

Childs is not alone in his enthusiasm for Nyro's music, an incredible range of musicians join him in interpreting her narratives. Classical soprano Renée Fleming and cellist Yo-Yo Ma add new meaning to her hometown ode, "New York Tendaberry." Jazz stars Esperanza Spalding and Wayne Shorter collaborate on Nyro's pictorial "Upstairs by a Chinese Lamp," and R&B chanteuse Ledisi updates one of Nyro's biggest hits, "Stoned Soul Picnic." Other prominent voices include Alison Krauss, Rickie Lee Jones, Shawn Colvin, Dianne Reeves, Susan Tedeschi, Lisa Fischer and Becca Stevens, with featured instrumental soloists Chris Botti, Jerry Douglas, Chris Potter and Steve Wilson. Childs' own experiences leading jazz chamber groups proved invaluable to creating the widescreen scope of "Map to the Treasure" his focus was on arranging the ensemble and guests to best present Nyro's imagery. Even after Childs' decades of considering Nyro's music, at the heart of it all is his unyielding devotion to her art. That love is the heart of the re-imagination of "Map to the Treasure."

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Digital Booklet: Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro
Digital Booklet: Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 9, 2014)
  • Original Release Date: September 9, 2014
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Run Time: 62 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,245 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rushmore VINE VOICE on September 10, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I heard Billy Childs being interviewed on NPR this past weekend and knew I had to have this music in my collection. Like Childs and Scott Simon, I have a very emotional response to the music of Laura Nyro. The pure innocence in her voice, combined with the stunning wisdom of her lyrics, gets me every time. She defined soul - when she sang, it was like we could see into her soul.

Although this collection is titled "Reimagining Laura Nyro," it feels more like a tribute than a total departure. Billy Childs is a jazz pianist. His arrangements are on the soulful, bluesy side. They can get dark and spooky. The vocalists have similar qualities to Laura Nyro, although we may not have realized it till now. Usually it works beautifully. Susan Tedeschi is a revelation - what a beautiful performance. The exception, in my opinion, is Rickie Lee Jones with Been on a Train. She affects a little-girl tone that doesn't sit right, and the arrangement is positively ominous. I guess it works if a creepy feeling is what you're after. Personally, I wanted to fast-forward.

I love all the rest of the music on this record. I am going to be listening to it a lot. Major kudos to Billy Childs for getting Lisa Fischer, my favorite featured subject of the Academy Award winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom - she absolutely dominates on the title track. Renee Fleming, Alison Krauss and Shawn Colvin appear often on tribute collections like this, which is a good thing because they are great and their contributions are instant classics.

Billy Childs obviously had a strong vision for this album and was very hands-on - he plays on every track. The music is really gorgeous and he has done well by Ms. Nyro. Definitely one of my favorite albums of the year and highly recommended.
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Format: Audio CD
The World is waking up to the genius of Ms Nyro

Laura Nyro is one of my favorites! Her songs are timeless and totally unique. Billy Childs new CD is a wonderful "reimagining" of her works--his piano chops, orchestrations and feel for her material comes thru in every song. Some of my initial favorites are "And When I Die" and "The Confession" but the whole thing should be experienced with the lights off- as a total experience. There was also another tribute CD that was released last year by a wonderful jazz singer that is a wonderful companion piece to
Billy's CD--it also "reinvents" her songs--not trying to imitate but to pay homage. Check it out--it's called "The Laura Nyro Project" Mark Winkler--It's so good to see the world waking up to the genius of Ms.Nyro
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Finally! An interpretation of Laura Nyro that reveres her as the brilliant, complex composer she was, rather than relegating her to the "woman singer-songwriter" category. Her name deserves to be mentioned alongside those of the Great American Songbook composers and the classic jazzmen, but most assessments of her career since her untimely death from ovarian cancer in 1997 have mentioned her alongside shallow pop performers who happened to be of the same era and gender. Billy Childs understands that it's about the MUSIC. His orchestrations put into sharp relief every unexpected chord progression and unorthodox rhythmic shift, adding extra layers of beauty to already-stunning compositions, much as Ravel did in his orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition. I only wish that this album included even more of Nyro's compositions, as it would be thrilling to hear what Childs could do with them!
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A person who is very familiar with the music and songs of Laura Nyro will say her songs reach the soul...and inspires an individual for life. Billy Childs, composer and pianist, offers an original compositional suite of ten of Laura Nyro's songs which have inspired him both musically and lyrically. With Larry Klein as co-producer, from the introductory song "New York Tendaberry" to the final "And When I Die", this recording is a complete musical experience, powerful and refined, immediate and emotionally stirring. Each song is integrated into the whole and flow seamlessly from one to the next. Led by Billy Childs on piano, his chamber-jazz-rock ensemble provides the visceral edge and quiet stillness needed for Nyro's songs.

Billy Childs orchestrates with originality, utilizing his understanding of soul, folk, jazz, rock, and classical music to present each song in a new way, at times with much different instrumentation from Laura Nyro's originals, but it works extremely well. His take on "Map to the Treasure" is dynamic and sonic with drums, bass, percussion, guitar, strings, and piano building layers of sound. These partnered with vocals by Lisa Fischer, propel the song to an apex. This is one of the best realizations of a Laura Nyro song delivered.

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma provides an instrumental companion voice to Renee Fleming's, sometimes echoing her feelings, and at other times a catalyst. The song "New York Tendaberry" begins quietly, then the pace quickens with the inclusion of an array of instruments evoking the pace of noonday New York: subway trains, pedestrians hurrying, taxi cabs crowding the streets, then sudden quiet contemplation in the stillness of the night as Renee nearly whispers the words "New York Tendaberry".
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