You may feel a whole lot better about things after checking out Live at the Village Vanguard. Now, without argument or scholarly discourse, that can be said for any of the time honored performances captured under that heady title, but here it's Christian McBride and Inside Straight and seriously, this one has fun written all over it. An instant Top Tenner for 2021.
Bassist/educator/advocate, McBride needs no further introduction save to say he has heightened fun into an art form. His playing, even at its most pensive and persuasive, proclaims that better times are here even if just for the immediate moment. The immediate gig. This immediate assemblage of keen minded, high flying musicians. And this is their last set of the three-night stand so they'd like to play for you now.
Vibraphonist Warren Wolf's infectiously soulful "Sweet Bread" sets a very high bar straight from the gate. But it's a bar that Inside Straight hurtles high over with each successive track. Moving like Muhammed Ali, "Sweet Bread" swings for the fences and the fences swing back on McBride's own swing-crazy "Fair Hope Theme." Pianist Peter Martin ranges all over the landscape, a singular acrobat among equals. His joyful, sinewy run on saxophonist Steve Wilson's "Ms.Angelou" is worth the price of admission and the two drink minimum. Carl AllenconjuresArt Blakey and this set never stops. The energy and vibe is so tangible on "Shade of the Cedar Tree" that it's impossible not to imagine yourself in one of the 123 or so seats that make for max capacity in the Vanguard. Elbow to elbow, head bopping, feet tapping, a smile on your face everyone sees in the walk down dark. You're on your second drink when "Gang Gang" high octanes to life: Darting, sparring, powering on.
By the time "Stick and Move" steam rolls over you, and McBride and Allen take your breath away in a serious of groove statements that leave you amazed, you can envision yourself one of the jubilant patrons, standing, cheering, applauding. It's the power of music Mach Ten. It's Live at the Village Vanguard.
Sweet Bread; Fair Hope Theme; Ms. Angelou; The Shade of the Cedar Tree; Gang Gang; Uncle
Stick and Move.
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