Christian McBride Trio – Out Here – Mack Avenue MAC 1069, 60:05 ****:
(Christian Sands – piano; Christian McBride – bass; Ulysses Owens Jr. – drums)
Back in the day, there was an expression that went “James Brown was the hardest working man in show business.” In current jazz terms, a similar phrase could be applied to Christian McBride who seems to be a ubiquitous presence in variety of musical aggregations, recordings, and live presentations. In the most current iteration, he is fronting his own trio which is showcased on the Mack Avenue release entitled Out Here.
Never one to rest on his laurels, this session is McBride’s second album of 2013, where he brings his bottomless and expressive sound to bear on a session of straight–ahead piano jazz with Christian Sands, who is a pianist of illimitable resourcefulness, and Ulysses Owens Jr., a focused and enthusiastic drummer. Opening with “Ham Hocks And Cabbage” which is as tasty as its name, the trio delves into an accessible bluesy frame of mind. The Oscar Peterson stem-winder “Hallelujah Time” is a follow along in a racing tempo that surely Peterson would admire, with an arco solo from McBride and some slashing drum breaks from Owens Jr. In addition to the afore-mentioned “Ham Hocks”, McBride has another original composition entitled “I Guess I’ll Have To Forget” which is a lovely ballad done with a Latin undercurrent.
Christian McBride has been active on the jazz scene since the ‘90s and his playing both in terms of tone and proficiency has been compared to both Ray Brown and Paul Chambers. Additionally he has not restricted himself to any particular format as he appears to be equally comfortable whether it is with a duo, trio, quintet or big band. His musical tastes are just as catholic regardless if it be jazz, pop, funk or fusion. In this particular trio construct, the band takes that old George Shearing chestnut “East Of The Sun (and West Of the Moon)” and lets McBride carry the lead in setting the melody and the carrying a big part of the solo workload. The Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical The King And I seemed to be replete with tunes that were readily adaptable to jazz interpretations, but apart from a 1958 album by trumpeter Wilbur Harden and pianist Tommy Flanagan, and one by the Mastersounds, few jazz artists have tackled the repertoire. The trio remedies that situation with a standard ballad rendition of “I Have Dreamed” with McBride leading the way with a bowed legato interpretation of the melody with pianist Sands then picking up the task with an oblique view of the piece.
This is an album filled with upbeat concepts from a gorgeous trio.
TrackList: Ham Hocks And Cabbages; Hallelujah Time; I Guess I’ll Have To Forget; Easy Walker; My Favorite Things; East Of The Sun(And West Of The Moon); Cherokee; I Have Dreamed; Who’s Making Love