Jazz, March 2022

hfnalbum.pngChristian Mcbride & Inside Straight
Live At The Village Vanguard
Mack Avenue MAC1192; LP: MAC1192LP

Supreme in many genres, the great bassist got back to straight-ahead jazz with this aptly-named quintet in 2007, enlisting Freddie Hubbard bandmate Carl Allen on drums, pianist Eric Reed, saxophonist Steve Wilson, and dazzling newcomer Warren Wolf on vibes. Kind Of Brown (2009) was followed by People Music (2013), with Peter Martin now on piano. The band returned annually to the Vanguard, where this album was recorded in 2014, and it's a treat to hear them live. They're tight and exciting right to the end, when McBride is astounding in the bass-and-drum feature 'Stick & Move'. This music can be deemed old-school after all that's happened in the last seven years, but it leaps out as fresh as tomorrow. SH


Nicolas Meier World Group
MGP Records MGPCD25 (three discs)

One disc here contains the new studio album Magnificent, recorded by Meier while unable to tour in 2020 and 2021. As with Peaceful (2019), the World Group includes violinist Richard Jones, bassist Kevin Glasgow and percussionist Demi Garcia Sabat, Meier flying on fretted and fretless guitars. As he says, the album has 'a very live feel', even though the bass and drums had to be recorded in a different studio. But for atmosphere and immediacy it can't quite match the excellent Live, recorded in February 2020 and also included here. This was previously a digital-only release, as was Meier's 2021 solo album Stories, which completes an attractive CD bundle. SH


Secret Sessions
Ubuntu UBU0092; LP: UBU0092LP

As with the digital-only Fragile Eagle (2020), saxophonist Paul Booth's zany but refreshing idea here was to invite musicians to a recording session without telling them who else would be playing. They were only told what the instrumentation would be, so they could bring suitable arrangements. Booth's lineup this time included trumpeter Tom Walsh, trombonist Nichol Thomson, guitarist Chris Allard, Laurence Cottle on electric bass and Ian Thomas on drums. Essentially, they got it down on one afternoon, with just a few parts added later. And what you get is a great set of fusion tunes with bright and sunny brass, lots of adventurous solos and plenty of fun. SH


Craig Taborn
Shadow Plays
ECM 3819021

In a varied career, Craig Taborn has played with many kinds of groups but a solo concert tour in 2010 was followed by Avenging Angel, an ECM solo studio album. Shadow Plays was recorded live at the Vienna Konzerthaus in 2020 but, as Taborn puts it, it's 'part of the same continuum... that process of spontaneous composition goes onward'. His music is virtuosic, complex and dense-textured, offering for example an intense exploration of dissonance with 'Discordia Concors' and 'Concordia Discors'. Yet between these two pieces comes the wonderfully exhilarating 'Conspiracy Of Things'. A stunning piece of work, initially challenging but rewarding. SH