Bassist’s trio records Live at the Village Vanguard
By David Sands
Sept. 8, 2015
Christian McBride’s upcoming live album makes a lot of sense for him, given both his stature and personal history.
With more than 300 recordings as a sideman and 12 albums as a leader under his belt—not to mention four Grammy awards—the respected bassist has certainly earned his place as a luminary of the contemporary jazz scene. So it’s appropriate that the setting for his latest release with his trio would be the storied Village Vanguard.
The iconic Greenwich Village nightclub has served as a stomping ground for a slew of jazz greats, and it’s got an intimate connection for McBride too. The bassist started playing there as a leader in 1995, and the Vanguard’s owner Lorraine Gordon began an annual week-long residency for him in 2007.
“Lorraine enjoyed my trio and my quintet, Inside Straight,” says McBride. “We had such large crowds, so after a few years with such supportive audiences, we added an extra week. Instead of doing the same band for two weeks, I just started bringing in a different band. This has been an ongoing relationship that I look forward to maintaining as long as I can.”
McBride’s new album is a celebration of that relationship.
This time around, the bassist is playing with his trio, rounded out by pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. They’ve put together nine tracks, a lively mix of originals, jazz standards and popular R&B tunes.
For years McBride avoided a trio out of fear that he’d sound like a Ray Brown clone, but eventually decided that was a “silly reason” not to start a trio. He started playing gigs with Owens and pianist Peter Martin, when saxophonist Steve Wilson and vibraphonist Warren Wolf were unavailable for gigs. Later Christian Sands replaced Martin and the trio’s lineup was cemented.
“In trying to find repertoire for the trio in our early stages, I tried to come up with songs that were easy to learn and that you can put your own spin on them,” the bassist says.
The album features the trio’s takes on Wes Montgomery’s “Fried Pies” and Billie Holiday’s “Good Morning Heartache.” Other classics include a fast-paced take on the jazz standard “Cherokee” and a drum-heavy interpretation of the spiritual “Down By The Riverside.” Listeners will also be treated to “Sand Dune,” an original composed by Sands and two pop tunes, the theme song to the 1977 movie Car Wash and “The Lady in My Life,” a Rod Temperton ballad best known for appearing on Michael Jackson’s famous Thriller album.
“You can literally feel the ghosts of all of the legends that played there,” McBride says of the Vanguard. “You feel Coltrane hovering in the vortex. You feel Monk hovering in the vortex. Miles Davis, Mingus… you feel all of that in the air.”
With his new recording, the celebrated bassist hopes to add yet another layer of jazz virtuosity to the famous nightclub’s mystique.
Mack Avenue Records will release Live at the Village Vanguard on Sept. 18.
1. Fried Pies
2. Band Introduction
4. Sand Dune
5. The Lady in My Life
7. Good Morning Heartache
8. Down By the Riverside
9. Car Wash
Title: Live at the Village Vanguard
Artist: Christian McBride
Release Date: Sept. 18, 2015
Label: Mack Ave. Records
Order Live At The Village Vanguard here:
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