Christian McBride

Gettin' to It

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McBride had already made his name as an astounding bass sideman when he recorded his first album as a leader, which nailed him as another in the long line of mainstream-minded Young Lions. McBride would shed that tag within a few years when he brought forth his other interests, but for now he headed a series of three- to six-piece bands compromised mostly of somewhat older Young Lions similarly attached to tradition. They're in pretty good form, too -- the tasty Cyrus Chestnut on piano, the growing trumpeter Roy Hargrove, big-toned tenorman Joshua Redman -- and the more experienced trombonist Steve Turre and drummer Lewis Nash complete the personnel. McBride's big, rock-solid tone and melodic agility give his playing the properties of a horn -- at 22, he was a mature master -- yet his ideas as a leader were not yet as imaginative as his bass playing. One exception -- and easily the most entertaining and musical track on the CD -- is the birth on record of McBride's bass trio with mentor Ray Brown and veteran Milt Hinton in "Splanky"; you'd never guess that three unaccompanied bassists could make such sublimely enjoyable music. Another is the title track, whose funky tune and rhythm are audibly inspired by James Brown. Mostly, though, this is a promising but cautious debut.

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