Christian McBride & Inside Straight

Even before ending his brief stay at Juilliard to join Roy Hargrove's band, Christian McBride was an in-demand bassist, playing dozens of sessions as well as being a member of Bobby Watson's band. Two decades later, McBride is universally acknowledged as one of the great bassists of our time. He's also a bandleader, a versatile session player with contributions stretching from Chick Corea to Natalie Cole to Sting, a composer, an arranger, a jazz educator, a radio host, and an activist on multiple fronts. McBride's current quintet, Inside Straight, was assembled for a date at New York's Village Vanguard in 2007. In contrast to some electric McBride projects in recent years that ventured into funk, hip hop, and fusion, Inside Straight is an all-acoustic, essentially straight-ahead outfit that blithely references jazz tradition while moving forward via melodically charged tunes. On board are revered pianist Eric Reed, drummer Carl Allen, saxophonist Steve Wilson, and young vibes up-and-comer Warren Wolf Jr. On last summer's Kind of Brown, McBride's glorious wooden tone and imaginative runs anchor a sound that slyly incorporates elements of the blues, gospel, swing, and bop. There's a bright, lively romp through Freddie Hubbard's "Theme for Kareem," with Wilson particularly shining on alto, in tribute to the late trumpeter, and a scintillating new version of "Shade of the Cedar Tree," which McBride wrote with pianist Cedar Walton in mind. The album concludes with a lovely duo take on the standard ballad "Where Are You?" with Reed's delicate piano and McBride's elegant bowing engaged in a languid dance. $30 at 7 p.m.; $20 at 9:30 p.m. (Photo by Brian Callahan)
Mondays, Sundays. Starts: May 16. Continues through May 17, 2010

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