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Album Review

One might assume that bassist Christian McBride's CD Kind of Brown would be a tribute to Ray Brown. Au contraire — in fact, it would be appropriate for this recording to own up to the title Kind of Blue Note, because this music bears a strong resemblance to the late-'60s to mid-'70s recordings of the legendary Bobby Hutcherson-Harold Land quintet. That seminal post-bop ensemble defined the mid-period Blue Note label sound, and created resonant sonic signposts that remained unequaled, until now. A new discovery in vibraphonist Warren Wolf, Jr., teamed with veteran saxophonist Steve Wilson, the wonderful pianist Eric Reed, and drummer Carl Allen makes McBride's quintet dubbed Inside Straight into one of the more melodically tuneful and harmonically focused contemporary ensembles combining past tradition with a fresh new approach to this potent style of jazz. McBride is almost an equal in this company, putting aside his furious note playing for a more democratic role in this extraordinarily balanced small combo. The similarities to the Hutcherson-Land group are unmistakable, from the tick-tock rhythm and melodic line similar to Hutch and Herbie Hancock's classic composition "Blow Up" on "Brother Mister" to the steady swinger "Rainbow Wheel" and "Pursuit of Peace," with its probing basslines via McBride and perfectly fitted hand-in-glove melody and unison approach. The athletic and quirky "Stick and Move" is hard-charging bop at its best with Reed leading; soul-jazz is adopted during the waltz "Used 'ta Could" in parallel to the standard "Better Than Anything"; while "The Shade of the Cedar Tree" (for Cedar Walton) is again similar to what Walton and Hutcherson did with the Timeless All Stars, and close to Walton's tune "Hindsight." McBride's role as a leader is more pronounced on "Theme for Kareem," an ultra-tight, very hip tune that has potential standard written all over it. Wilson concentrates on alto sax, but plays a bit of soprano on the recording for the waltz-to-samba "Starbeam"; McBride restrains his inclination to play a multiplicity of notes; and Wolf proves to be a new artist to keep a close watch on in the next decade. While Christian McBride has been involved with many amazing recordings during his brief but substantive career, this might be his best batch yet. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Impeccable and interesting

A brilliant and deep recording with great variety and impeccable musicianship. The interplay between the piano and vibraphone is magnificent. The music is smart, well crafted, kinetic, melodic, and interesting. What more can you ask for?

Great album start to finish

Finally, another straight ahead hard bop album that has some rumble to it. I am not a huge vibes fan but the sound terrific here. And the piano and sax are sensational. Driving it all is the incomparable bass playing from McBride. This is as fine a jazz album as I have heard in a long time. At least since Hargrove's Earfood or Garrett's Songbook. In fact, better than those. It's just a shame there are so few straight ahead albums at this level or this fun.

Yo Christian, what are you doin' to me, man?

Yo Christian, from a Philly bass player to another, you're killing me, man!! Excellent, excellent album. Where did you get that vibraphonist from? Awesome, awesome, awesome!! Keep making albums like that and you will make me really study jazz! : )


Born: May 31, 1972 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Nearly everyone's favorite acoustic bassist to emerge in the 1990s, Christian McBride's large sound and expertise, both with plucked and bowed solos, recall Ray Brown and particularly Paul Chambers. He actually started on electric bass when he was eight and took R&B gigs in high school, but by then he was getting more interested in jazz and playing the acoustic bass. McBride studied at Juilliard (starting in 1989) and then played briefly in the bands of Bobby Watson, Benny Golson, Roy Hargrove, and...
Full Bio
Kind of Brown, Christian McBride
View In iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Jun 16, 2009

Customer Ratings