Christian McBride and Inside Straight – People Music (2013)

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Taking a page from Cannonball Adderley, who had a remarkable ability to take the complex and make it feel approachable, Christian McBride’s new album is as relatable as it is intense, as ebullient as it is substantive.

From the gospel-inflected opening cut “Listen to the Heroes Cry” to “Fair Hope Theme” (an expansion of his soundtrack work for the S. Epatha Merkerson documentary “Contradictions of Fair Hope”), from his touching “New Hope’s Angel” to “The Movement Revisited” (originally a Civil Rights-themed suite for choir and ensemble), McBride offers a half an album’s worth of direct, imaginative compositions that grounds People Music in an kind of hard-swinging, yet serious-minded egalitarianism.

Quite appropriately, McBride also opens up the floor on People Music — due May 14, 2013, via Mack Avenue — to his compatriots in the Inside Straight band, having developed a more conversational relationship with its members since their debut four years ago on Kind of Brown.

Vibraphonist Warren Wolf contributes “Gang Gang, a song filled with propulsive mystery. Saxophonist Steve Wilson, meanwhile, offers the layered and complex “Ms. Angelou,” which mimics a poet’s soaring rhetoric and idiosyncratic cadences. The core lineup of Inside Straight is rounded out by Peter Martin and Carl Allen, on piano and bass, respectively. Christian Sands and Ulysses Owens Jr., the rest of McBride’s new trio, sit in on two tracks — Sands’ cleverly angular “Dream Train” and the aforementioned “Listen to the Heroes Cry.”

Together, they’ve made an album that can be enjoyed, and yet could be studied — an album that is just as apt to move your feet, as to move your heart. Cannonball would be proud.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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