CHRISTIAN McBRIDE BIG BAND – The Good Feeling – Mack Avenue Records MAC 1053, 70:33 [9/27/11] ****:
Christian McBride has developed from the traditional school of big, open, deep sound, acoustic bass playing along the lines of Ray Brown and Paul Chambers. Diverting from his usual small group format, McBride decided to enter the sphere of big band arranging and composing to deliver a project that is justly exciting. With a stalwart group of first-class musicians such as Steve Wilson and Ron Blake on saxes, Freddie Hendrix and Nicholas Payton on trumpets, along with Steve Davis on trombone and Xavier Davis on piano among others, the band delivers an impressive inter-woven sound.
In “The Good Feeling”, McBride has put together an attention-grabbing disc with a combination of original material and popular derived compositions, with arrangements that feature the McBride bass in the foreground. Starting out with “Shake ‘N Blake” which was written for tenor man Ron Blake, McBride sets the tone for the disc with Blake taking an extended solo with the trumpets adding an exclamation point. “Broadway” opens with some unison reed playing reminiscent of the old Charlie Barnet band, and then a long solo from McBride that continues with the theme. Another McBride original “Brother Mister” had been featured on a previous McBride release “Kind Of Brown”, but here becomes a showcase for altoist Steve Wilson.
As an added delight on this outing, McBride has included three vocals by the highly regarded jazz singer Melissa Walker who just happens to be his wife. With her soulful, honeyed voice she delivers the goods with her renditions of “When I Fall In Love” with a wonderful arco introduction by McBride, “The More I See You” with Walker singing the unusual verse and the waltz feeling to “A Taste Of Honey”. McBride’s supportive arrangements are the epitome of good taste, and were written to take full advantage Walker’s exciting voice.
The genesis for this project goes back to the mid 1990s when McBride composed “Bluesin In Alphabet City” for Wynton Marsalis & The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra and which, by the way, is included in this disc. That initial foray stoked an awareness of writing for a larger group. But it has taken until now to bring that curiosity to fruition. As the disc closes out with “In A Hurry”, we are reminded of the individual strengths of the members of the band, and the command of their instruments needed to execute McBride’s charts.
Christian McBride has produced a wonderful disc that is a reflection of his unique writing style and is brought to life by a powerhouse band.
TrackList: Shake’N Blake; Broadway; Brother Mister; When I Fall In Love; Science Fiction; The Shade Of The Cedar tree; The More I See You; I Should Care; A Taste Of Honey; Bluesin In Alphabet City; In A Hurry.
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