Billy Childs plays to inspire the soul

Pianist and composer Billy Childs, and his music’s rhythmic soul with undertones of jazz, will be welcomed at Hancher along with his quartet. They will play in Strauss Hall on twice each on Friday and Saturday.

Childs has been a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and, as of Sunday, is a four-time Grammy winner with his album *Rebirth* winning Best Jazz Instrumental Album. He will play music described by Hancher as grounded in the classical but also innovating rhythmically.

Childs first began public performances at the age of 6, and by 16, he was enrolled at University of Southern California Community School of the Performing Arts, where he studied under such modern masters as Robert Linn and Morten Lauridsen.

After graduating, Childs was already popular among the LA jazz scene, and he released his first album in 1982. His newest album, *Rebirth*, features a variety of different musical instruments including saxophone, bass, drums, and trombone.

Childs will be accompanied by his quartet, which includes famous members such as Bob Sheppard on the saxophone and Ari Hoenig on drums.

Sheppard has played with such stars as Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, and James Taylor and has contributed to many movie scores. Hoenig has played with several other groups, several of which have won awards for their excellence.

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He said he has been inspired by Childs’ work during their time together.

“I love Billy’s writing, and I also really like his playing and his choices of musicians that he hires,” Hoenig said. “It’s interesting, because I never heard his music before he hired me. I was on the airplane on the way to the first gig with him, and I still hadn’t checked out the music. So, I listened to it and was like … ‘Oh-oh, I’m in trouble.’ ”

The Childs Quartet was in Denver on Jan. 25, its first official concert together. When asked about what it was like to play with Childs, Sheppard responded, “I’ve been playing with Billy in many different configurations over the last 30 years. I’m always grateful to be hired to play creative music, especially Billy’s. It’s always very challenging and inspiring to play his music with the best musicians on the planet.”

When asked about what advice he would give young musicians today, Sheppard had a new perspective.

“Work hard, be prepared, be objective about yourself, don’t ever think you’ve made it or your better than others; you’re not,” he said. “ ‘American Idol’ mentality does not work in the real world. You will not get what you need only from a degree program. Learn how to create a business around your talent, and always be humble.”

When: 7p.m. Friday

Where: Hancher Auditorium, Strauss Hall

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