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Christian McBride & Inside Straight: Kind of Brown (2009)

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Christian McBride & Inside Straight: Kind of Brown How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Since arriving in New York City in the late 1980s, where he briefly studied at Juilliard, Christian McBride has been one of jazz's most in-demand bassists. In addition, he has become a valuable composer, arranger and jazz educator with a wide-open interest in many musical styles.

The initial CD by McBride's Inside Straight quartet features saxophonist Steve Wilson
Steve Wilson
Steve Wilson
b.1961
sax, alto
, pianist Eric Reed
Eric Reed
Eric Reed
b.1970
piano
and drummer Carl Allen
Carl Allen
Carl Allen
b.1961
drums
(with whom McBride worked in Benny Green's trio), expanding to a quintet on some tracks with up-and-coming vibraphonist Warren Wolf
Warren Wolf
Warren Wolf
b.1979
vibraphone
, Jr. Seven of the ten tracks are originals by the leader, several of which are tributes. "Uncle James" is a soulful, soft jazz waltz saluting the late James Williams
James Williams
James Williams
1951 - 2004
piano
, a beloved jazz pianist and educator who died in 2004 after a brief battle with cancer. Wilson's upbeat soprano sax floats over the whispering rhythm section, with Wolf adding a potent, understated solo.

Cedar Walton
Cedar Walton
Cedar Walton
1934 - 2013
piano
is honored by "The Shade of the Cedar Tree," a delicious hard bop number that would have fit the repertoire of Art Blakey
Art Blakey
Art Blakey
1919 - 1990
drums
's Jazz Messengers, with a potent lead by Wilson on alto sax, Reed and McBride. The leader pays tribute to Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
1938 - 2008
trumpet
, with whom he worked, on a percolating treatment of the late trumpeter's blues, "Theme For Kareem," offering some of his most intricate playing of the session.

Although not stated, McBride's "Used 'Ta Could" could easily be considered a tribute to his idol, the late Ray Brown
Ray Brown
Ray Brown
1926 - 2002
bass, acoustic
, a subdued but funky number with a touch of gospel, with his arco playing reminiscent of the late Paul Chambers
Paul Chambers
Paul Chambers
1935 - 1969
bass, acoustic
. With a CD full of obviously winning tracks, bet the entire pot on Inside Straight.

Track Listing: Brother Mister; Theme For Kareem; Rainbow Wheel; Starbeam: Used 'Ta Could; The Shade of the Cedar Tree; Pursuit of Peace; Uncle James; Stick & Move; Where Are You?

Personnel: Christian McBride: bass; Carl Allen: drums; Eric Scott Reed: piano; Steve Wilson: sax; Warren Wolf, Jr.: vibes.

Record Label: Mack Avenue Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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