Bassist Christian McBride doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody. Arguably the most successful musician of his generation, his success has allowed him to, well, do whatever he wants. One thing is for certain whatever it is that he chooses to do, its always done at a very high level. His latest two releases are stark contrasts to one another and demonstrate what makes him such a special musician. Take OUT HERE his latest release with his new working trio of young piano phenom CHRISTIAN SANDS and drummer ULYSEES OWENS JR. for example. This is as straight ahead as it gets and McBride reminds us all that he is deeply deeply rooted in the style of his mentor Ray Brown. From the opening note of the opening track Ham Hocks and Cabbage the trio lays it down and lays it down hard. Then there is of course the burning and crowd pleasing Hallelujah Time which I believe was played by the great Oscar Peterson Trio (can’t fact check, as I’m on a plane!). This tune sent the Cellar audiences into a frenzy everytime they played it back in February. The record has two many highlights to mention but I have to mention the beautiful ballad I Have Dreamed stated by Christian McBride on the bow. His bow work is fantastic! Such a gorgeous tune. Both Sands and Owens Jr. sound phenomenal throughout and although the trio plays groovy and in the pocket they demonstrate that they can take it anywhere the music wants to go…….which brings me to the next Christian McBride recording.
PEOPLE MUSIC (Mack Avenue). This time its Christian’s quintet Inside Straight featuring WARREN WOLF vibes, PETER MARTIN piano, STEVE WILSON saxophones and OWNES JR. once again on drums. If you’ve read this blog you know what a huge fan of KIND OF BROWN (the band’s debut release) I was. That album knocked me out! It reminds me so much of Mulgrew Miller’s Wingspan band which I came to love that had the same instrumentation. PEOPLE MUSIC features original material by Christian and is a bit more modern sounding but still so CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE! Swinging, soulful! It’s always great to hear STEVE WILSON (the unsung hero of alto saxophone). I’m reminded of a funny WARREN WOLF story. I brought Wolf and his Baltimore buddy TIM GREEN (alto saxophone) to The Cellar 3 years ago. I believe it was October 2011. It was a great show. The following year our friends at Coastal Jazz & Blues brought Inside Straight to the festival and they played at a big theatre. After that show (which I couldn’t attend) I can’t tell you how many people came to me and said “oh Cory, you have to bring this vibraphone player from Christian McBride’s band to The Cellar.”
The tunes and the playing are top rate throughout. Lots of room for the soloists to really shine and as usual Christian so graciously gives his bandmates lots of room to rip it up and rip it up they do! Great playing by everyone throughout and why wouldn’t their be, all these guys are at the top of their game.
I’m always thoroughly impressed with Christian’s many activities and how at home he is playing in all kinds of different styles and genre’s. He can go from Big Band to his quitnet to his trio to playing straight head to playing out.
It’s cool! Check these reocrds out!