Jazz CD Reviews

Christian McBride + Inside Straight – People Music – Mack Avenue

A harmonically knowledgeable band with a shared sense of promise.

Published on April 17, 2013

Christian McBride + Inside Straight – People Music – Mack Avenue Records MAC 1070, 55:45 ****:

(Christian McBride – bass; Peter Martin – piano 2, 3, 4, 5, 8; Carl Allen – drums 2, 3, 4, 5, 8; Steve Wilson – alto sax; Warren Wolf – vibes; Christian Sands – piano 1, 7; Ulysses Owens Jr. – drums 1, 7)

As most poker players know all too well, the odds of drawing to an inside straight are not very good, and thus the opportunity to lose money is very high. However in musical terms, bassist Christian McBride + Inside Straight seem to have drawn the right cards for his release People Music.

The acoustic quintet that Christian McBride has assembled for this session is two iterations of Inside Straight with the original core group on six tracks and then two newer and younger musicians: namely pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., fill in more than admirably on two tracks with literally no change in sound or musicality. McBride, of course, is a restive and penetrating bassist with a self-assured and big- tone. He is also a composer who bristles with new ideas, and has an orderly sense of contemporary expression. He starts off this exploration with “Listen To The Heroes Cry,” with strong alto work by Steve Wilson supported by Warren Wolf on vibes. That segues into “Fair Hope Theme” which McBride had used as the main theme for the documentary film The Contradictions Of Fair Hope with McBride’s arrangement demonstrating several rhythmic undercurrents and features Peter Martin’s piano and again the crisp vibes of Warren Wolf.

Other members of the quintet are composers as well and have made their own contributions to this release. Vibist Warren Wolf has a fugue-like offering entitled “Gang Gang” that not unexpectedly features his percussive mallet approach. Altoist Steve Wilson pitches in with “Ms. Angelou” which takes up the cadence and poetry style of poet Maya Angelou to anchor his composition. Clever young pianist Christian Sands shows his own sense of soundness and innovation with “Dream Train”.

Christian McBride + Inside Straight are a harmonically knowledgeable band with a shared sense of promise towards contemporary musical outings.

TrackList: Listen To The Heroes Cry; Fair Hope Theme; Gang Gang; Ms. Angelou; The Movement, Revisited; Unusual Suspects; Dream Train; New Hope’s Angel

—Pierre Giroux

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