by Mark Saleski
Vertical Vision would remind me of Weather Report even if it didn’t contain a smokin’ reading of “Boogie Woogie Waltz.” Honest!! It’s the tone of the bass … it’s got lot of Jaco in it … and you know what that means!
A quick scan of Christian McBride’s amazingly diverse discography lets you know just where he’s comin’ from: Everywhere! I mean, the guy’s played with everyone from Joe Henderson and Freddie Hubbard to Natalie Cole, Sting … and even Kathleen Battle. So it’s not surprising to hear the variety of styles offered up: straight-ahead jazz (playing the changes on “The Wizard Of Montara”), fusion (“Technicolor Nightmare”), edgier modern jazz (“Precious One”), ballads (“Tahitian Pearl”) and the very cool suite-like “Lejos De Usted.”
And then there’s funk: “The Ballad Of The Little Girl Dancer” just rips. Definitely the high point of the record for me. Jaco would be proud. The CD ends with that cover of Weather Report’s “Boogie Woogie Waltz (which is outdone by the live video version provided with the cd extras).
It’s nothing new for McBride to wear his influences on his sleeve — despite negative reviews back then calling this retreaded Weather Report, which was very unfair and maybe a little lazy as well). For further listening, check out his year 2000 release Sci-Fi. I bought it after hearing his way-cool cover of Steely Dan’s “Aja.”