by Willard Manus
This Mack Avenue release has a secondary title: CHRISTIAN McBRIDE & INSIDE STRAIGHT. The INSIDE STRAIGHT monniker was selected by 3000 of McBride's fans, having been invited by the famed jazz bassist to take part in a naming competition.
Nomenclature aside, the CD is a swinging affair, with McBride leading his usual quintet (Peter Martin, bass; Carl Allen, drums; Steve Wilson, alto; Warren Wolf, vibes) in spirited, hard-driving fashion. McBride, who wrote half of the eight tracks, has gone acoustic this time (same goes for his fellow musicians). He has also drawn on his previous large-scale Civil Rights jazz suite for The Movement Revisited, a stirring cry for freedom and equality.
All of McBride's music is delivered with consummate skill by his band, whether it's of the straight-ahead variety, or a bit of funk, or a touch of gospel. There is no drop-off in cohesiveness or virtuousity when Christian Sands and Ulysses Owens, Jr. replace Peter Martin and Carl Allen on piano and drums, respectively. All told, this CD offers first-class musicians playing equally first-class music.