Live From The Detroit Jazz Festival-2015

Review by Willard Maus

Here is a smokin’ hot release from Mack Avenue Records, LIVE FROM THE DETROIT JAZZ FESTIVAL–2015. Each year for the past four years Mack Avenue has taken part in the Labor Day weekend festival, putting together a big band drawn from its roster of jazz stars to play pretty for the people. 2015's leader of the 7-piece band was bassist Christian McBride, who decided on a straight-ahead approach that allowed for some free-swinging, deeply-felt playing by his fellow-musicians (Carl Allen, drums; Gary Burton, vibes; Tia Fuller, alto and soprano sax; Freddie Hendrix, trumpet; Christian Sands, piano; and Kirk Whalum, tenor sax).

All but Allen contributed original compositions to the mix, all of which are of the highest order, commencing with Whalum’s Preach Hank, a funky r & b-flavored tribute to his idol, the late tenorman Hank Crawford. More blistering tunes followed–such as Sudden Impact (by Hendrix) and Paint Brushes (McBride)–with change-of-pace soulful ballads provided by Burton (All You Have To Be Is You) and by Fuller, who excelled on the warm, thoughtful reverie Decisive Steps.

LIVE is the result of a high-spirited, take-no-prisoners jazz concert captured in all its power and glory by Mack Avenue’s recording engineers. (