Album Reviews

Christian McBride and Inside Straight – People Music (Mack Avenue)

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Christian McBride People MusicThe name of this album reminds me of Louis Armstrong’s response when he was asked what he thought about folk music: “All music is folk music; I ain’t never heard no horse sing a song.”

Expert bass player McBride cites Cannonball Adderley’s music in his definition of “people music”: “[Adderley] always exemplified high artistry, but no matter how esoteric or abstract it could get, he still related to people.” Here, McBride and company play solid, straightforward jazz (hence the name of the band) with uncompromising improvisations that radiate a bright and welcoming spirit.

The band’s set list consists of all original compositions by McBride and bandmates Warren Wolf, whose vibes give the ensemble’s sound a warm glow; Steve Wilson, whose potent work on alto and soprano saxophones is thrilling throughout; and the highly intelligent and soulful pianists Peter Martin and Christian Sands. On all but two tracks, the drummer is Carl Allen, one of McBride’s notable and longtime musical partners; the others feature a rising star in jazz percussion, Ulysses Owens Jr. At the core of the group is McBride, a master musician who once again demonstrates how his love of swing colors every note he plays.

– Cliff Preiss

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