Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro
Pianist Billy Childs studied composition at USC and has written commissions for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic while also playing jazz. Here, he pushes all these skills to the limit by arranging and orchestrating this stunning collection of Laura Nyro songs with assistance from a long, impressive, and varied list of musicians. (Names are included alongside each track.) Music fans will no doubt have a passing acquaintance with classics like “And When I Die,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” and others, but there are also deep cuts here like the title track and “Been on a Train.” All are dealt with a sure-handed blend (just as Nyro did) of soulful vocals, funk groove, singer/songwriter introspection, pop hooks, richly textured strings, and jazzy solos. Moreover, it’s woven together in a seamless way that honors the artist’s writing and unifies the dozens of players into a unified whole.