CD reviews by J Hunter
It’s “Back To School” time, and speaking from experience, you need good tunes to get through the first few weeks… and the following nine months. Here are a few suggestions to relieve the tedium – whether you’re a student, a parent or a teacher:
CHRISTIAN McBRIDE TRIO
On the surface, Out Here is a logical extension of the fervor bassist Christian McBride put into his mad trad group Inside Straight, a killer quintet that puts a straight edge onto straight-ahead jazz; below the surface, McBride is morphing slowly into former mentor/leader Ray Brown by building solid platforms for the next generation of jazzers to show their stuff. Out Here strips Inside Straight’s attack down to the bare essentials, giving us a piano-trio date that has something most piano-trio dates don’t have – teeth! The savory blues “Ham Hocks & Cabbage” might burn your mouth here and there, but you’ll revel in the taste of it. Pianist Christian Sands gives Billy Taylor’s “Easy Walker” the heart and the touch of its late, great composer, while Johnny Taylor’s iconic shouter “Who’s Making Love” gets stamped into the New Great American Songbook with a soul-jazz arrangement that’s unerringly driven by drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. Sands and Owens both feature on Inside Straight’s latest disc People Music, so they’re dialed right in to McBride’s vibrant take on all things jazz. Sands’ roaring keyboard work on the superfast gospel “Hallelujah Time” is one of those calling-card solos people will remember, and his vast exploration of “My Favorite Things” almost makes you forget that some guy named Coltrane recorded it, too. But that’s Christian McBride, who’s been playing fearless music for over three decades – and, for once, “more of the same” is a really, really GOOD thing!