Christian McBride – For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:11:47 minutes | 1,43 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Mack Avenue Records
Christian McBride solidifies his role as the champion of the past, present and future of jazz with his GRAMMY® Award-winning Big Band’s new album in tribute to Jimmy Smith, Wes Montgomery and Oliver Nelson. Featuring special guests Joey DeFrancesco and Mark Whitfield, “For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver” honors the historical legacy of the jazz legends who shaped the soul of music for generations to come.
Christian McBride’s latest big band session travels back to an incredible moment in 1966 when organist Jimmy Smith, guitarist Wes Montgomery and arranger Oliver Nelson gathered at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio for a hard-swinging and ever-so-slightly unconventional big band summit meeting; all were operating at peak creativity. It was the first-ever collaboration between Smith and Montgomery, and the resulting albums (The Dynamic Duo and The Further Adventures Of…) were bursting with feats of highwire soloistic daredevilry. Nelson was the stealth MVP of the date. His arrangements—particularly “Down By The Riverside” and “Milestones”—discovered a lane equidistant between the hard swing of Basie and the floral voicings of Ellington, with intricate full-ensemble taunts giving way to plush pads designed to provoke the soloists.
McBride’s update uses those and other original Nelson charts, which, after all these decades, exude a freshness that eludes many large-ensemble projects. And it relies on a similarly sparky showdown between strong minded soloists—the organist Joey DeFrancesco and guitarist Mark Whitfield. Both clearly know they’re working in the towering shadows of giants; neither seems daunted by that as they explore the hairpin turns of the big-band “Milestones” or the easygoing saunter of Montgomery’s “Road Song.” There are a few astonishing small-group moments, too, that offer a quick gauge on how far these soloists have evolved— check Whitfield on “Road Song,” DeFrancesco’s gentle and dramatic reading of the ballad “I Want To Talk About You” and McBride’s capricious twenty-fingered trip through “Up Jumped Spring”).
One elusive element McBride managed to transfer from the original source: The swing feel. From the opening solo, a twisty-road Whitfield foray on “Night Train,” it’s clear that the soloists thrive in the McBride sweet spot—everything they do, all the flashy blowing, flows directly from the crisp, uncomplicated grooves established by the bassist and his rhythm section. Big band music would be easier to love if it all felt this good. – Tom Moon
1. Christian McBride Big Band – Night Train
2. Christian McBride Big Band – Road Song
3. Christian McBride Big Band – Up Jumped Spring
4. Christian McBride Big Band – Milestones
5. Christian McBride Big Band – The Very Thought of You
6. Christian McBride Big Band – Down by the Riverside
7. Christian McBride Big Band – I Want to Talk About You
8. Christian McBride Big Band – Don Is
9. Christian McBride Big Band – Medgar Evers’ Blues
10. Christian McBride Big Band – Pie Blues