The album starts impressively with Wes Montgomery‘s 1963 classic “Fried Pies” from his Boss Guitar LP. Both Christian Sands on piano and the leader have brilliant solo spots on this one, both echoing the thrilling playfulness of the original composer and both not only just playing for themselves, but always pushing and exchanging ideas in favor of the original tune.
Sands, who was mentored by the late great Billy Taylor, plays some outstanding and killing lines on the J.J. Johnson tune “Interlude” where McBride and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. also exchange some battling choruses. The melodious playing of both Sands and McBride comes to the front on the Sands composition “Sand Dune”, a very lilting piece perfect for the leader’s introspective, singing bass. At only 26 years old, Sands is definitely someone to look out for in the future. It’s a beautiful and soulful piece with a lot of grace.
Christian’s choice of material has always been superb, whether in his own trio or in his various other groups that he is fronting. Michael Jackson‘s “The Lady In My Life” is a very welcome surprise here. Keeping it simple and true to the original at first, the three start to ad-lib to what becomes an energetic, dynamically diversified cover. The crazy tempo on Ray Noble‘s “Cherokee” is really striking with Sands playing his what-have-you off and showing even more outstanding chops here. Once again there is some fastidiously fast interplay between McBride and Owens which the crowd seemingly digs.
It’s all drama, but restrained and hushed, on the 10-minute plus “Good Morning Heartache” which opens with bowed bass in the introduction before the standard sets off to become an extremely intimate and enthralling affair with some bluesy piano playing during the performance. The album closes out with some gritty funk and gospel on the traditional “Down By The Riverside” and the cute crowd-pleaser “Car Wash”, the Rose Royce tune from the late 70s where you can easily feel the joy and fun the three must have had on the bandstand.
Christian McBride plays the Monterey Jazz Festival this upcoming weekend with a Jaco Pastorius tribute and he’s back at the Vanguard December 1st to 6th with his trio (Jerome Jennings on drums) and for a second week December 8th to 13th with his “New Jawn” project featuring Josh Evans, Marcus Strickland, and Justin Brown.