Album review: Christian McBride's 'Conversations With Christian'
Bassist/bandleader Christian McBride isn't a guy who likes sitting still. The L.A. Phil's Creative Chair for Jazz from 2006 to 2010, the 39-year-old McBride has recently toured with the jazz-fusion super-group Five Peace Band as well as his throwback acoustic ensemble Kind of Brown, which released a sharp debut in 2009. This year marks another active one for McBride with September's rambunctious big-band album "The Good Feeling" and this month's "Conversations With Christian," a collection of duets that rose out of a 2009 podcast series of the same name.
Full of loosely intimate interplay, the results sometimes recall the try-anything spirit of McBride's guest-heavy 2006 live album "Live at Tonic." A duet with Dee Dee Bridgewater on "It's Your Thing" swells with such a sassily off-the-cuff spirit that Bridgewater briefly breaks into laughter, while jazz violinist Regina Carter forms an intricate lattice-work with McBride for a bluesy play on Bach's Double Violin Concerto. A sparkling improvisation with Chick Corea churns through a sea of unexpected twists, and "McDukey's Blues" is a raucous piano-bass sprint with George Duke, who sounds worlds away from his breezier plugged-in fare.
A meeting with Sting on his jazz-dusted "Consider Me Gone" doesn't add much to the original, and a goofily funky duet with Gina Gershon on mouth harp goes on too long. But even if some combinations don't draw the same sparks, McBride's knack for taking chances remains something to talk about.
-- Chris Barton