Saturday, December 10, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
I often get review copies of cd’s sent to me. Reviews I do not publish elsewhere will appear here.
Christian McBride - Conversations with Christian
One of my least favorite expressions is “a good problem to have.” It ranks right up there with “it is what it is” as being a discussion ender. Christian McBride (bass) suffers from having too many interests, and way too many friends. Good problem to have, right? Well, sort of, but it depends. In this case, for one thing, it depends on intended usage. I liken this project to a hybrid bicycle. Being a bicycle snob myself, that is not necessarily a good thing. However, I have mellowed in my old, old age, and have grown to accept that some people at some times will, in fact, find the hybrid to be the perfect thing for them, as opposed to the worst of both worlds, as I have always considered it to be. Take this all with a grain of salt however, as I issue the following sincere disclaimer. Christian McBride is, hands down, the man. His tone is undeniably gorgeous, his facility is light years beyond anyone else’s. He plays the upright as if it were a tiny toy in his hand, and is capable of doing whatever he wants on the instrument, which is an absolute joy to listen to, and he is that, always an absolute joy to listen to. This is probably partially what accounts for all those friends. However, this is where the trouble starts, where the hybrid comparison begins. This project would probably be great dinner party music for a certain set, and it is true that McBride’s bass and the duo format gives a bit of a thread throughout. Unfortunately, the styles are all over the place, and I think even the casual listener would be hard pressed to not find preferences pop up instantly. That’s fine, often there are tracks one prefers on any CD, but this project is that to the nth degree. Being a traditionalist, I loved several tracks. The Dr. Billy Taylor and the Hank Jones cuts are sublime, and make me want more. There are several others including the Hargrove, Ron Blake, and Russell Malone tracks as well. But I will probably not be putting the CD on often, as it is not worth it to me to skip over the Sting and the Dee Dee Bridgewater tracks. Nothing against those phenomenal musicians, but as opposed to what Ms. Bridgewater insists incessantly on her showcase, it ain’t my thing.