William Edward Childs

William Edward Childs (born March 8, 1957), best known as Billy Childs, is a composer and jazz pianist from Los Angeles.[1]

Early life

Childs began piano lessons when he was six. At the age of 16, he started attending the Community School of the Performing Arts, a prestigious music program sponsored by the University of Southern California (USC). After having studied theory there with Marienne Uszler and piano with John Weisenfluh, he attended USC (1975–79), earning a bachelor of music degree in composition, under the tutelage of Robert Linn.[2]

Childs was playing professionally as a teenager and he made his recording debut in 1977 with the J. J. Johnson Quintet during a tour of Japan that is documented as the Yokohama Concert. He gained significant attention during his six-years (1978–84) playing with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's group. While influenced early on in his playing by Herbie Hancock, Keith Emerson, and Chick Corea and in his composing by Paul Hindemith, Maurice Ravel, and Igor Stravinsky, Childs nevertheless had an original conception of his own from near the start, developing his own voice as both a pianist and a composer in jazz and classical music genres.

Solo albums

Childs's solo jazz recording career began in 1988, when he released Take for Example, This..., the first of four critically acclaimed albums on Windham Hill Jazz. He followed that album with Twilight Is Upon Us (1989), His April Touch (1992), and Portrait of a Player (1993). Chick Corea asked Childs to join his label, Stretch Records. Childs's next album, I've Known Rivers appeared on Stretch/GRP (now Stretch/Concord) in 1995. This was followed by The Child Within on Shanachie Records in 1996.


In 2000 Childs arranged, orchestrated and conducted for Dianne Reeves's project The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan,[1] which won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Other artists and producers for whom Childs has arranged include Sting, Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Botti, Gladys Knight, Michael Bublé, David Foster, Phil Ramone, and Claudia Acuña.

Jazz Chamber Ensemble

In 2001 Childs formed a group which consisited of piano, bass, drums, acoustic guitar, harp, and woodwinds. Sometimes the core group is augmented by string quartet, woodwind quintet, or both. Childs was influenced by Laura Nyro's collaborations with Alice Coltrane (on "Christmas and the Beads of Sweat") and by a desire to merge classical and jazz music.[3] In 2005, the ensemble released its first album, Lyric, Jazz-Chamber Music, Vol. 1, which was nominated for three 2006 Grammy awards: Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Best Instrumental Composition, and Best Arrangement, winning for best instrumental composition, "Into the Light".

Awards and honors

Classical commissions


Title[5] Year of ReleaseLabelChart
Take for Example This 1988 Windham Hill Jazz
Twilight Is Upon Us 1989 Windham Hill Jazz Top Jazz Albums 11 [4]
His April Touch 1991 Windham Hill Jazz
Portrait of a Player 1993 Windham Hill Jazz Top Jazz Albums 12 [4]
I've Known Rivers 1995 Stretch
The Child Within 1996 Shanachie
Skim Coat 1999 Metropolitan
Bedtime Stories 2000 32 Jazz
Lyric - Jazz/Chamber Music, Vol. 1 2005 Lunacy
Autumn: In Moving Pictures - Jazz/Chamber Music, Vol. 2 2010 ArtistShare
Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro 2014 Sony MasterworksJazz Albums 1
The Billboard 200 104

With J. J. Johnson and Nat Adderley


  1. 1 2 Berlanga-Ryan, Esther (12 April 2011). "Billy Childs: The Perfect Picture". All About Jazz. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  2. 1 2 "Billy Childs: 2009 - US & Canada Competition Creative Arts - Music Composition". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  3. Wardle, Renato (11 October 2005). "Billy Childs Ensemble: Lyric: Jazz-Chamber Music Vol. 1 (2005)". All About Jazz. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Billy Childs: Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  5. "Billy Childs: DIscography". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
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