Recorded over three consecutive nights in December of 2014, Live at the Village Vanguard showcases bassist Christian McBride and his trio in concert at the storied New York venue. A four-time Grammy winner, McBride has been a superstar in the jazz world since debuting as a teenager in the late '80s.
This album finds guitarist Pat Metheny on solid ground. It's a typical post-bop with a vaguely Latin feel. Metheny hooks up with his regular partners, Christian McBride on double bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums. As you'd expect for musicians who have played hundreds of dates together they're very comfortable in each other's company.
He may be in his mid-sixties, but pianist Chick Corea hasn’t slowed down in the least. In the past five years there’s been a monumental three-week run at New York’s Blue Note, focusing a bright light on acoustic ensembles past and present and beautifully documented on the ten-DVD set Rendezvous in New York (Image Entertainment, 2005).
Christian McBride's second big-band album, 2017's Bringin' It, is a robust, swaggeringly performed set of originals and standards showcasing his deft arranging skills and his ensemble's exuberant virtuosity. The album comes six years after his previous big-band outing, The Good Feeling, and once again finds the bassist conscripting a slew of his talented cohorts (some new, others returning), including saxophonists Steve Wilson and Ron Blake, trumpeters Freddie Hendrix and Brandon Lee, trombonist Steve Davis, pianist Xavier Davis, drummer Quincy Phillips, and others. Together, they make a swinging, dynamic sound that brings to mind the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra of the 1960s and bassist Charles Mingus' various big-band recordings. It should be noted that both of those ensembles continue to live on as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and Mingus Big Band, and McBride's group matches their high artistic legacies.
This live Boston summit meeting between Ray Brown, Christian McBride and John Clayton was the logical outcome of several joint appearances, as well as an extension of a one-off bass troika track that McBride included on his first solo album. The idea of a bass trio on records probably would have been unthinkable in the primitive days of recording when Brown was coming up, but Telarc's fabulously deep yet clear engineering makes it seem like a natural thing to do. Whether pizzicato or bowed, whether taking the melodic solo or plunking down the 4/4 bottom line, all three perform with amazing panache, taste, humor, lack of ego, and the sheer joy of talking to and against each other beneath the musical staff. But if one has to pick out a single star, the choice has to be McBride, whose unshakeable time, solid tone and amazing ability to play his cumbersome bull fiddle like a horn stands out in astonishing fashion on the right speaker.