Those who’ve seen Christian McBride in action know what a show this Grammy-winning jazz bassist packs. Not only is he one of the greatest ambassadors of jazz this country has ever known, but he’s a mastermind of the pop-soul-jazz mix, an eloquent spokesman, an entertaining showman, and sometimes, a three-ring circus of laughs, conversation, and story.
People can’t get that unless they go to one of McBride’s many shows throughout the world. Live At The Village Vanguard is the next, best thing to being there for fans of Christian McBride and his current hot trio with pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr.
The McBride Trio’s first, legit live album — recorded December 12-14, 2014 at the famed New York City Village Vanguard, where the bassist holds a long-time residency — comes out this Friday on Mack Avenue Records.
The Trio’s performed these nine songs in one form or another at one gig or several dozen, from the calling card of J.J. Johnson’s “Interlude,” to Sands’ introduction as a multi-talented pianist and composer in “Sand Dune,” to several of the Philadelphia-born bandleader’s fancies.
Like most Grammy-winning bassists — he’s got four — the Juilliard-trained McBride can play the groove out of almost any song, regardless of style. At every concert, he proves his versatility and way with soul. In this live album, he and his crew permeate the soul in a jazz setting on known pop standards such as Michael Jackson’s “The Lady In My Life” and crowd favorite, “Car Wash,” known more for the funky theme than the movie.
McBride and the Village Vanguard go way back, to 1995. The live album is a culmination of a long-standing, fruitful relationship between the artist and the club. Club owner Lorraine Gordon gave him a one-week residency in 2007, good every year.
“Lorraine enjoyed my trio and my quintet, Inside Straight. We had such large crowds, so after a few years with such supportive audiences, we added an extra week,” McBride explained in a DL Media press release. “Instead of doing the same band for two weeks, I just started bringing in a different band. This has been an ongoing relationship that I look forward to maintaining as long as I can.”
When it came time to make a live album, McBride went with the natural choice — his versatile trio. “I realized that with guys like Ulysses and Christian, we can go anywhere we want to go: angular, swinging, esoteric, blues, impressionistic and funk,” he said, also in the release.
The only thing missing in this live album is McBride’s larger-than-life personality in the banter he drops between songs and with the audience. There is a moment in the “Band Introduction,” where you get a flavor of the man behind the music. But as producer, perhaps McBride chose to let the tunes do all the talking, because they do.