Christian McBride Trio – Out Here (2013)

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Still going on a tear following his widely-acclaimed Kind Of Brown (2009), the prodigious bassist Christian McBride has since produced two records in 2011 and soon to be two in 2013; Nick DeRiso surveyed his quintet outing People Music from last spring.

Out Here, the latest one, is a back-to-basics affair intended to show off his accidental trio with the current generation Young Lions Christian Sands and Ulysses Owens, Jr. I say “accidental” because they first performed as a threesome when two members of McBride’s Inside Straight quintet — saxophonist Steve Wilson and vibes player Warren Wolf — couldn’t show up for a 2009 gig. McBride decided to forge ahead without replacements and loved the vibe he got from the closer connections to the piano of Sands and the drums of Owens. Four years later, the good feeling is finally documented in a studio recording collection due out next week.

There’s nothing experimental or groundbreaking about Out Here, but that wasn’t the point, either. Unveiling the trio to the record listening public and hearing McBride lead a date in such a small setting for the first time in eleven releases as a leader is what this is about. Accordingly, the repertoire mine old gems to test this group’s grasp of tradition, harmony and symmetry: all but the McBride originals “Ham Hocks and Cabbage” and “I Guess I’ll Have To Forget” are standards, or close to it.

Some of those standards are played pretty close to the way they’re traditionally played, like “Cherokee” (save for the slowed down chorus), while “My Favorite Things” is turned into an episodic, multi-faceted virtual suite, but with a new, modern bridge added that freshens up the song. The most successful be-bop exploit is not “Cherokee” but Oscar Peterson’s “Hallelujah Time,” a spirited, galloping gospel, but the McBride/Owens rhythm sections maintains tight control though all the discreet modulations as Sands is precise through swift runs. “Ham Hocks” is most evocative of Peterson’s own piano/bass/drums trios, a suave swing, and McBride’s typical wit, character and relaxed steadiness come through in his playing.

For my money, though, the most entertaining track comes at the end. The Trio takes on the hand-clapping, foot-stomping funky strut of Johnny Taylor’s “Who’s Making Love,” and McBride is so burrowed in the pocket replicating that signature bass line. Later on he’s clearly having a ball scatting along to his bass, and Sands’ blues-drenched piano gives the song a lot of soul. Coming after a lot of flawlessly executed coat-and-tie jazz, loosening up those ties, rolling up their sleeves and getting down is the perfect way to end Out Here.

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Out There is due out August 6, and will be distributed by Mack Avenue Records.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron

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