BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
It’s not that a reimaging of Laura Nyro isn’t overdue. It’s just that with her soulful sentiments and sophisticated introspection, Nyro’s songs ought not be buried beneath these outsized arrangements. Pianist and orchestrator Billy Childs has the right intentions, but turning Nyro’s songs into a series of jazzy motifs negates the melodies in favor of more ambiguous set-ups.
It’s not that the performances aren’t worthy of attention; “Save the Country,” “New York Tendaberry” and “To a Child” are sensuous and beguiling, but as presented here, they simply drift into the ethos. As a result, most of these selections begin to blur, making it difficult to differentiate one from another. Complicating matters is the fact that few of the songs are especially well known; with the exceptions of “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Save the Country” and “And When I Die,” the familiarity factor is fairly negligible. Still, there’s no denying the talent involved in this undertaking. Child is an astute arranger and his choice to enlist an A-list of collaborators – Shawn Colvin, Dianne Reeves, Alison Krauss, Chris Botti, Steve Wilson, Susan Tedeschi, Yo-Yo Ma, Wayne Shorter and Jerry Douglas, among them – adds credence and creativity to this project.
A soothing soundtrack for a Sunday afternoon, Map the Treasure is best described as nocturnal Nyro.
DOWNLOAD: “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Save the Country,” “And When I Die,”