143

Christian McBride: Conversations With Christian

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Plenty of ink has been spilled by those espousing their opinions on the art of the trio, but the duo format doesn't get its due nearly as often—either in print or on record. The trio format allows for various permutations in musical interaction, but pairing two artists together is all about direct, head-to-head conversation, and bassist Christian McBride knows a thing or two about this. While McBride has made a name for himself as a go-to bassist for all occasions and styles of music, his podcasts, Sirius-XM Radio Show (The Lowdown: Conversations With Christian McBride) and work as the co-director of The National Jazz Museum in Harlem have also shown the bassist to be an engaging presence in one-on-one games of the aural variety.

While McBride considered the idea of a duo record in the late '90s, he had other things on his mind at the time. Now, more than a decade later, he brings this concept to fruition with some help from thirteen A-list partners. Violinist Regina Carter joins the bassist for a baroque-meets-the-blues exploration of Johann Sebastian Bach's Double Violin Concerto ("Fat Bach And Greens"), vocal-pop icon Sting makes an appearance with guitar-in-hand on "Consider Me Gone," McBride and vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater engage in saucy repartee on the funky and engaging "It's Your Thing," while shtick comes into the picture on a bluesy Jew's harp and vocals-meet-bass number with actress Gina Gershon ("Chitlins And Gefiltefish").

While McBride is more than comfortable and compelling in every setting on this album, the piano and bass partnerships on display seem to rise above the rest of the performances. Eddie Palmieri brings high energy Latin jazz into the mix on "Guajeo Y Tumbao," the dearly departed Dr. Billy Taylor brings a sense of calm and peace to the album with his own "Spiritual," which opens and closes with some gorgeous arco work from McBride, and George Duke delivers the most chops-heavy piano work on the record, with "McDukey Blues." While the late Hank Jones' isn't nearly as aggressive as Palmieri or Duke, his connection with McBride may be more powerful and palpable, and this pair deserves to be dubbed The Great Jazz Duo for this performance.

Preconceived notions concerning structure seem to surround most of these numbers, but McBride's duet with pianist Chick Corea is of the organically-developed variety. Suspense-filled sounds and Spaniard-Argentine influences abound as "Tango Improvisation #1" takes shape, but a blues foundation sneaks into the music as the piece develops, and the final act surrounds choppy, paranoid single-note statements from Corea's piano.

Conversations With Christian McBride may, ultimately, be critically eclipsed by the bassist's fine big band record, The Good Feeling (Mack Avenue, 2011), that arrived a mere two months before this collection, but that would be a shame. These albums are actually companion pieces that highlight McBride's mastery of all things musical.

Track Listing: Afirika; Fat Bach And Greens; Consider Me Gone; Guajeo Y Tumbao; Baubles, Bangles And Beads; Spiritual; It's Your Thing; Alone Together; McDukey Blues; Tango Improvisation #1; Sister Rosa; Shake 'N Blake; Chitlins And Gefiltefish.

Personnel: Christian McBride: bass; Angelique Kidjo: vocals (1); Regina Carter: violin (2); Sting: vocals (3), guitar (3); Eddie Palmieri: piano (4); Roy Hargrove: trumpet (5); Dr. Billy Taylor: piano (6); Dee Dee Bridgewater: vocals (7); Hank Jones: piano (8); George Duke: piano (9); Chick Corea: piano (10); Russell Malone: guitar (11); Ron Blake: tenor saxophone (12); Gina Gershon: vocals (13).

Title: Conversations With Christian | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Mack Avenue Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 21, 2017
Read "East West Time Line" CD/LP/Track Review East West Time Line
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 10, 2017
Read "Confidences" CD/LP/Track Review Confidences
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 3, 2017
Read "Happy All the Time" CD/LP/Track Review Happy All the Time
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 12, 2016
Read "Billows Of Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Borrowed Time" CD/LP/Track Review Borrowed Time
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 15, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.