- Audio CD (13 May 2013)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Mack Avenue
- ASIN: B00BVYTA4Q
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 205,900 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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One of the most prominent jazz artists of his generation, bassist Christian McBride is best known for a number of successful recordings under his own name and as a sideman for Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Diana Krall. In 2007 he created Inside Straight, a new quintet that focused on playing straight-ahead acoustic jazz and which debuted with the acclaimed 'Kind of Brown'. His new Mack Avenue CD 'People Music' delivers a more road-tested, "lived-in" Inside Straight, able to dig deep while projecting that ebullient vigour that has become McBride's trademark.
Eight original tunes make up 'People Music' and balance intense interplay with an exuberant personal expression that speaks directly to the listener. McBride contributes half of the repertoire for the album, but also felt it was important to feature pieces written by the other band members, all of whom are accomplished composers in their own rights. Two items from the bassists own pen stand out, however, "The Movement Revisited" drawn from his large-scale suite for choir and jazz ensemble dedicated to icons of the Civil Rights movement, and "New Hope's Angel" inspired by the tragic passing of Soul Diva Whitney Houston.
It's not simply abundant virtuosity that makes Christian McBride the most in-demand bassist on today's jazz scene. McBride consistently combines deft musicianship with an innate ability to communicate enthusiasm to an audience - two factors that he, together with the other members of Inside Straight, unquestionably demonstrate on 'People Music'.
Personnel: Christian McBride (bass), Steve Wilson (alto saxophone), Warren Wolf (vibes), Christian Sands, Peter Martin (piano), Ulysses Owen Jr., Carl Allen (drums)
' It springs to life with the energy, conviction and mutual trust of a band who cut their first album four years ago. Add in a standout sax and vibes front line and a well-worked aesthetic gains a fresh and gleaming new identity.' -- Jazzwise, (Mike Hobart), June 2013 * * * *
'On the surface, this album slips readily into the category of updated hardbop: that's indeed where it belongs, but the good news is McBride handles the updating with exceptional flair.' -- Jazz Journal, (Ronald Atkins), August 2013 * * * *
'McBride is supported by a great band...on this really enjoyable and accessible album...The excellent Listen to the Heroes has a modal/spiritual jazz approach. Dream Train is high quality straight ahead stuff.' -- Echoes, (Malcolm Prangell), July 2013
'It's a group that's gelled, mellowed and matured, with flowing, meaningful solos blending into the whole, and all with that indefinable sense of inner poise that marks a truly great band.'--Hi Fi News, (Steve Harris), August 2013
Top Customer Reviews
The tunes are all original with McBride, Wilson, Woolf and Martin all making contributions.
That minor gripe aside, there is much good music to be heard here and fans of good natured straight ahead jazz will love it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Master drummer Carl Allen who plays on all but two of the tracks here sharing duties with 30yr old rising star drummer Ulysses Owens Jr who appears on track 1. & track 7. The piano bench has also been divided among two of McBrides favorite pianists, one or the other or both have been Christian's pianist of choice for awhile now since at least 2003. The pianists are the veteran Peter Martin who I first encountered playing his butt off on Joshua Redman's fantastic 1996 release "Freedom In The Groove". The other pianist is the 22yr old Christian Sands who plays on track 1 & track 7 with Ulysses Owens Jr on drums which makes up the motor for the Christian McBride Trio. Christian Sands also played smoking piano on Ulysses Owens Jr's debut album Unanimous which McBride also plays on.
The sole horn on this outing is veteran alto & soprano sax man Steve Wilson who appeared on this band's debut album "Kind Of Brown". On vibes also returning from the previous album is the young rising star Warren Wolf who's been on the scene the last ten years making a name for himself & recording a few albums under his name,in my humble opinion Warren plays alot like Milt Jackson of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Of coarse Christian McBride is leading the charge from his acoustic bass possessing one of the biggest tones out there with full range clarity from top to bottom,spot on intonation with that Ray Brown bounce to his walking lines. On People Music Christian provides the soloists swinging support as well as first class soloing pizz & arco, in my opinion McBride's playing with the bow is really developing, he possess a unique tone & great intonation. Now onto the music.
The music on "People Music" is all written by either McBride tracks 1,2,5 & 8. Steve Wilson-track 4, Christian Sands-track 7, Warren Wolf track 3 & Peter Martin composed track 6 which accounts for all eight tunes on the album.
The album opens with the medium tempo McBride piece "Listen To The Heros Cry" which opens with a strong vamp set up by bass,drums & piano which has shades of Coltrane's minor key classic "Equinox" except with alot more rhythmic activity from the bass. The melody enters being played in close voicing by the vibes & alto sax, the melody has a bluesy swagger to it & it's not a knotty chops buster rather more sing song,the type of melody that you can sing easily after one or two hearings. The solos are all inspired in my opinion beginning with Wolf's vibes. He's a two mallet player very much in that Milt Jackson vain rather than a sound & style similar to Gary Burton who pioneered the 4 mallet technique,his playing is quick & concise & not to be missed. Wolf is followed by Steve Wilson on alto who takes the most inspired solo on this tune in my opinion really making his alto wail with a nice dark full tone that to my ears is similar to his peer Kenny Garrett. Christian Sands takes a nice solo followed by one McBride's fleet fingered solos.
Track 3 "Gang Gang" composed by Warren Wolf is probably one of my favorite pieces thus far. It opens with a really hip bass & piano unison figure that lays the foundation for the rest of the piece to be built,it's a busy line with a latin lilt that has alot of forward momentum when combined with the drums of Carl Allen. This melody reminds me of something written by Wayne Shorter for his album "Schizophrenia". It's stated by alto & vibes keeping that blues quality that was introduced in the first tune & is a strain that runs throughout the duration of this album, I personally love it & think it helps the continuity of the albums overall flow.
Track 4 "Ms Angelou" is a medium tempo ballad written by saxophonist Steve Wilson who switches to soprano sax for his sole tune of this set. It begins on a hushed note with a beautiful piano intro played by Peter Martin with McBride & Carl Allen backing him. Carl using mallets with his snare drum's snare turned off gets a wonderful African feel & warm thick sound from his snare & tom toms. Soprano & vibes enter together with the melody after the brief piano intro. The melody is introspective with the piano & vibes providing a lush canopy of sound that the soprano nestles in,the bass & piano left hand execute intricate counterpoint. A very nicely written piece.
I'm not going to continue the track by track review because I'd like everyone to pick this up & give it a listen for themselves. I'll close by saying if you own the first album by Inside Straight Kind of Brown you should have no fear in purchasing this album. If you're into the music of the Harald Land & Bobby Hutchinson quintets of the 60s & 70s then you should give this a listen.
It opens with "Listen To The Heroes Cry",in which drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. plays in the quintet a very spacious blues where his drum intervals go from an intense level of flamboyance back to the quietly swinging rhythms of the basic song. "Fair Hope Theme" has a strong melody with Martin's piano taking presidents in terms of improvisational power. "Gang Gang" brings in an even stronger Latin element and a very chordally rich theme that scales up and down as the instrumentalists change their improvisations. "Ms. Angelou" is a slow,probing and very minor chorded piece built around a strong sense of melodic foreboding. The hyper kinetic tempo of "The Movement,Revisited" is built around a melody similar to one I heard on the Manhattan Transfer's 1981 number "Kafka". "Unusual Suspects" is another strong blues built around Carl Allen's elaborate drum fills. "Dream Train finds Owens again on drums for a more swinging number where the album ends with the lush and melodically beautiful "New Hope's Angel"-very much a late 60's/early 70's soul jazz ballad affair and my personal favorite number here.
At first I wasn't sure how this sometimes intense example of virtuoso instrumentation could ever be considered "people music". On my first listen,it seemed to be music of a sort that would alienate many people rather than draw them in. By the second listen I thought of the context in which this was recorded. Today people who have a conscientious mindset are not the focused activist type personalities of the musical generation from which the kind of jazz here derives. They tend to be more mercurial. We have at least three separate generations of human beings trying to prove to each other their values are the only correct ones. There is more of a sense of personality clashes and emotional growing pains then that 60's/70's aestetic of "trying to get over". As a result "people music" today represents a culture more defined by uncertainty and anxiety. So this music,prone as it is to be extremely rhythmically and harmonically complex at a moments notice,does reflect the cultural impulses of a modern day, and far less certain kind of person.