Christian McBride – Live At Tonic – Ropeadope

by | May 2, 2007 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Christian McBride – Live At Tonic – Ropeadope (3 CDs) no #, **** [Release date: May 16]: 

The performances for this 3-CD collection were culled from a two-night set at Tonic—a club located in the heart of the Lower East Side.  The first disc contains the best takes of the early set from both nights; the second and third discs contain the entire second set from both nights. 

McBride has had a noteworthy career.  He’s worked with so many great artists—people like McCoy Tyner, Sting, Diana Krall, Ray Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Pat Metheny, Billy Higgins, Joshua Redman, David Sanborn, Chick Corea, Chaka Khan, George Benson, Joe Henderson, and Milt Jackson to name a few.  The band on this recording consists of Geoffrey Keezer on piano and keyboards, Ron Blake on tenor and soprano saxophones and flute, and Terreon Gully on drums.  The all-star guests that are present for the second sets include DJ Logic, Scratch (The Roots), guitarists Charlie Hunter and Eric Krasno (Soulive), pianist Jason Moran, trumpeter Rashawn Ross and violinist Jenny Scheinman (Bill Frisell).

The music is a veritable funk extravaganza!  Imagine a dim, smoke-filled room with bobbing heads and smiles all around.  The listener quickly finds that they are swaying to the groove—caught up in the rolling waves of sound and roped in by the expressive base line.  On the first disc there is what I’d call the more common jazz fare.  Track three is a playful tune in memory of comedian Flip Wilson that should evoke a chuckle or two.  Tracks like four and seven have smooth horns and a mellow keyboard style that are reminiscent of 70s jazz and artists like Freddie Hubbard ala Red Clay.  Track five has an awesome bass solo with lots of crowd participation building from a simple piece to a full-on explosion of sound.  The closing track on the disc is a 15-minute version of Weather Report’s “Boogie Woogie Waltz.”– quite a nice finish for the first disc.  The other discs vary so much in style that almost every track is something a little different.  Improvisation is the name of the game, and right from the beginning Charlie Hunter makes his guitar sing like a bird.  This cut is 30 minutes long!  As the disc progresses the music gets more and more avantgarde though it never approaches the point where it becomes atonal or un-listenable.  Disc three is much more contemporary and includes beat box, scratching, and has an entirely different flavor—it’s great.

The recording has a club feel—not always the best acoustics, but provides the undeniable sound of “live.”  I’d rate it a B or slightly better.  Songs included are: CD1 (71:36)- Technicolor Nightmare; Say Something; Clerow’s Flipped; Lejos De Usted; Sonic Tonic; Hibiscus; Sitting On A Cloud; Boogie Woogie Waltz.  CD2 (66:36)- See Jam, Hear Jam, Feel Jam; Out Jam/Give It Up Or Turint Loose; Lower East Side/Rock Jam; Hemisphere Jam; Bitches Brew; Out Jam/Via Mwandishi; Mwandishi Outcome Jam; The Comedown (LSD Jam).  CD3 (73:00)- E Jam; Ab Minor Jam; D Shuffle Jam; D Shuffle Jam (part 2).

-Brian Bloom

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