"It Could Happen to You"
Liner notes from the CD, “Oh, You Crazy Moon”, written by pianist/composer Harold Danko.
"Liz Childs deserves to be heard. Her vocal sound is transparent in the best sense, allowing the listener to get the story and hear the music all at once. She captures the natural cadence of spoken words in her phrasing, and with clear diction and great intonation manages to set up an engaging atmosphere from the first note of any tune she does. A real musician, she brings the best out of those who play with her and has been something of a well-kept secret on the New York scene. I am very happy that Liz has taken the step of recording this intimate CD and allowing more people to experience her personal musical journey.
There are many special moments on this recording but above all there is a sense throughout of everyone listening to each other – conversing, taking chances, and creating subtle surprises. Taste in material and choosing just the right musicians allow for this, and the results shine through the entire set.
Liz always gets the lyrics across, whether admonishing the moon or revealing her cowgirl leanings. (I had no idea!) She conveys a distinctly Brazilian mood on Velas Icadas, though singing English lyrics. As the music on this CD unfolds, Liz convinces us that love can be both mysterious and beautiful, rhythm is fascinating, and that coming home and a samba in the summer are so very nice. The thoughts, dreams, and blues that are honestly portrayed in these relaxed musical settings are too marvelous for words alone. I could have told you so a long time ago about the talent of Liz Childs, but for now, just listen and enjoy."
Liz Childs – Take Flight
"Take Flight, the second offering from Liz Childs finds the young veteran vocalist/pianist stepping away from her usual seat at the keyboard and leading her swinging quartet standing at the microphone as she glides and soars through a generous program of 17 selections that blends ballads, bossas, standards and blues with jazz takes of three folk classics (a pair by Leonard Cohen and one from Bob Dylan) and her own original title track. Childs, whose distinctive interpretations of pages out of the Great American Songbook on her critically acclaimed debut CD Oh, You Crazy Moon and in live performances, have won her praises from such knowing artists as pianists Dick Katz, Harold Danko and Don Friedman and the vocal legend Margaret Whiting, who described her as “simply wonderful,” exhibits a full grown maturity on her new effort, delivering every song with an assured confidence that brings each lyric to life.
Accompanied by just her regular working group featuring guitarist Ed MacEachen, (who contributes ten original arrangements to the disc), with Dan Frabricatore on bass and Anthony Pinciotti behind the drums, Childs, an accomplished pianist, says “I wanted to experience the freedom to explore singing without being constricted by sitting at the piano, and to be able to more completely respond to the band as a vocalist only. So, that's what this CD is the start of.” Beginning with Jimmy van Heusen/Johnny Mercer classic “It Could Happen To You” one can hear the singer putting her newfound independence to good use as she opens up wordlessly improvising her introduction to MacEachen’s inventive arrangement with the creative spirit of an instrumentalist. Liz swings the well known lyric with a liberated Joie de vivre and then scats with the assured rhythmic sensibility developed at the piano, trading fours with guitar and drums before easing out with an improvised chorus.
Childs’ acute rhythmatism is heard to great affect on Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Dindi” as she gracefully intones the English translation of Aloysio de Olivera’s beautiful lyric, effortlessly weaving her wordless phrases into the cadenced Brazilian atmosphere built around MacEachen’s airy guitar. She then smoothly switches into high gear for an uptempo outing on Rodgers and Hart’s “Lover” where her scatting displays a tonal awareness and daring that betrays her affection for the late great Betty Carter, of whom she says, “I just love her freedom of expression.” Like Carter, Childs believes in giving her band plenty of space and the trio stretches out with their leader on this MacEachen arrangement.
Liz proves she can also commandingly handle the blues with her medley of Bobby Troup’s “Baby, Baby All The Time” and Bessie Smith’s “Reckless Blues.” Her ability to manipulate the shape of each note she sings to judiciously place emotional emphasis in all the right places, vividly brings the songs to life with a narrative quality that confirms her rare talent as a true storyteller who is able to convincingly draw the listener into her world.
MacEachen’s original arrangement of “Just One Of Those Things”, with its loping guitar counter melody, slows things down from the usual flag waving tempo at which most singers take the Cole Porter warhorse these days, allowing Childs to take her time to develop the lyric at her own pace to give heart to its true its melancholic connotation, which is often lost in more incendiary interpretations.
A devotee of both Joni Mitchell and Shirley Horn, Childs brings some of the affecting depth of those two icons to her interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” With impeccable diction and fluid phrasing the singer caringly narrates the poet’s moving words with a poignant honesty that is born out of experience and empathy.
The whole group gets a workout on MacEachen’s fresh look at “Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise.” Propelled by Pinciotti’s emphatic beat, Childs and the band dig deep into the driving rhythms of the guitarist’s novel take on the familiar melody. MacEachen’s new arrangement of “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” interpolating an “All Blues” vamp, again demonstrates his originality, while Childs’ ethereal wordless introduction, which she reprises later in the piece, testifies to her own inventiveness.
Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Meditation,” beginning at a brisker than usual tempo, showcases Childs’ full bodied sound, as she opens up boldly intoning the Norman Gimbel lyric, before settling into the tune’s bossa nova groove on a scatted excursion and a reiteration of the song’s opening chorus. She then reaches back into her blues bag for a measured reading of the ominous Langston Hughes poem “Bad Luck Card” with music by pianist Peter Madsen.
Liz returns to a Brazilian ambience on Toots Thielmans’ evergreen “Bluesette” and Bruno Martino’s beautiful “Estate,”swinging Norman Gimbel’s words with a carefree youthful zest singing on the former, then stirring singing Joe Siegel’s lyric with wizened emotional depth on MacEachen’s arrangement of the latter.
The date’s title track -- "Take Flight" – is an original by Childs with music by MacEachen. “It refers to a very simple, very old English canon, which creates the image of a bird flying high above the earth, way above the sorrow below,” she says of her creation. “The tune also references the Thomas Hardy poem, written in 1900, ‘The Darkling Thrush,’ which my father loved very much. I wrote the two verse lyrics, inspired those poems.” The words come alive with soaring spirit in MacEachen’s contemporary setting.
Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” is given the full jazz treatment by Childs and company. The singer’s steeped in the blues, countrified inflection -- revealing the influence of Bonnie Raitt - most appropriate to the song’s subject matter. Liz’s commanding delivery and authoritative tone is reminiscent of the great thirties recordings of the nearly forgotten jazz /blues legend Teddy Grace. Popularized by Tony Bennett and Carol Sloane, Jimmy Rowles and Johnny Mercer’s “Baby Don’t Quit Now” follows nicely. Liz’s convincing treatment of the terse saloon song reflects her experience as a pianist/vocalist in some of New York’s better known watering holes.
Child’s heartrending reading of date’s second Leonard Cohen composition, “Famous Blue Raincoat,” once again reveals her striking maturity as a singer. She says, “I pick songs that resonate with me because they create an image for me; or a feeling. Or they have some meaning that speaks to me.” Her emotional delivery here will undoubtedly make this heartrending rendition of one of the composer’s most popular pieces, speak to all who hear it.
The disc closes in classic jazz fashion with Cole Porter’s “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To.” Childs’ swings along with the trio, displaying the hip musicality of the pianist that she is; seeing herself as being completely a part of the band, as she tells stories with songs, having the band support her in the telling of those stories. With her newfound independence, away from her instrument, unfettered by its demands, she shines as a “stand-up singer,” enjoying the freedom to take flight."