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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.
Performance CreditsChristian McBride & Inside Straight Primary Artist
Steve Wilson Saxophone
Carl Allen Drums
Christian McBride Bass
Warren Wolf Vibes
Eric Scott Reed Piano
Technical CreditsJimmy McHugh Composer
Joe Ferla Engineer
Freddie Hubbard Composer
Orrin Keepnews Liner Notes
Christian McBride Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Maria Ehrenreich Production Director,Creative Services Director
Harold Adamson Composer
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