First review of a key record for 2023 practically tailor made for you if you are into driving hard bop and value the art of the band as a vehicle in itself.
Confidence is so important on a group record - you kind of need that omniscience about what's going on and certainly probably on his best record in many years you hear that here on Christian McBride's quartet album Prime.
The freak-out that metamorphoses at the beginning and shows among other things the fun the McBride band derive from switching in something of a provocation from a freak-out to a very old school jazzhead 1960s type woody groove genre-bending as if it is akin to child's play.
The title track itself features a mind blowingly virtuosic blend of sax and trumpet with Marcus Strickland and Josh Evans respectively as a team within a team - McBride and drummer Nasheet Waits operating in a self sealed dug out beneath them like coaches of a football team who then decide to ditch the headsets and instead jump on to the pitch because they can.
The New Jawn keep it very tight and so precise soloing. There is very little fat on the bone and an easy visceral edge to all the pieces prevails. Sonny Rollins' 'East Broadway Rundown' from the 1967 released album of the same name that had Newk on the title track with Freddie Hubbard and Trane's bassist and drummer Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones no less on board is a peach of a thing. McBride who has memorably performed with Rollins himself contributes the excitement of a riotous metropolitan night to the piece and the judiciously jagged resonance again of trumpet and sax plus McBride's prodigiously engaging pedal note insistence and energy laden heat underneath before he walks the line with great swagger is manifold. Textbook 21st century hard bop and at no point do you crave a pianist. Prepare to head bob all night long to this when the release day of 24 February hurtles in.
Marcus Strickland, Christian McBride, Josh Evans, Nasheet Waits, photo: Ebru Yildiz