Christian McBride Trio – Live At The Village Vanguard – Mack Avenue

Christian McBride Trio – Live At The Village Vanguard – Mack Avenue MAC 1099, 68:29 ****:

(Christian McBride – bass; Christian Sands – piano; Ulysses Owens, Jr. – drums)

The Christian McBride Trio is a rip-snorting band that dazzled an enthusiastic audience at the Village Vanguard during the live recording of this album on December 12-14, 2014. Lead by Christian McBride’s powerful sounding bass, with pianist Christian Sands, to use baseball metaphor, tearing the cover off the piano, and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr., laying down a solid groove that was both smart and experienced.

This energetically bold and expressive trio, starts off with a Wes Montgomery composition “Fried Pies” which has a down-home rocking feel. Pianist Sands commands the keyboard with his relentless style, with both McBride and Owens,Jr., pushing the composition along and McBride demonstrating his penetrating expertise in his solo space. The JJ Johnson tune “Interlude” is a bruiser in an up-tempo vein, with Sands again in complete control as he discovers the zest and sweeping view of the number. “Sand Dune” which is Christian Sands’ own composition, has the pianist in more reflective mode, with the arrangement providing McBride ample solo space to confirm his sonorous tone and vision.

Ray Noble’s “Cherokee” fairly bristles out of the starting blocks with drummer Owens, Jr.,using his brushes with deftness and speed, and is  matched by bassist McBride’s faultless walking bass line. Pianist Sands is running on all eight cylinders, as he charges forward with his energetic journey to creativity. All in all a great trio exposition of this well-known standard. “Good Morning Heartache” was originally recorded by Billie Holiday in 1946, and from that time onward, it was a regular part of her repetoire. The version offered by the trio opens with an arco run through of the melody by McBride, then Sands picks up the bridge in a languid mood, followed by McBride’s closing verse. Although not played in a blues tempo, the genre is not far from the musical underpinnings of the composition, although the references are oblique. The disco hit by Rose Royce “Car Wash” which was written by Norman Whitfield, closes the session with unrestrained exuberance. Spurred on by hand clapping from the audience, the band rides this funky express into a force field of good feeling. Rock on.

TrackList: Fried Pies; Band Introduction; Interlude; Sand Dune; The Lady In My Life; Cherokee; Good Morning Heartache; Down By The Riverside; Car Wash

—Pierre Giroux

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