Christian McBride / Christian McBride Big Band For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver (Album Review)
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Christian McBride / Christian McBride Big Band For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver (Album Review)

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Following his ambitious homage to leaders of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four, Christian McBride returns to his hard-swinging big band with 2020's For Jimmy, Wes, and Oliver. Where The Movement found him drawing inspiration from icons like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, For Jimmy, Wes, and Oliver finds the bassist drawing equal motivation from the work of jazz icons like organist Jimmy Smith, guitarist Wes Montgomery, and saxophonist/arranger Oliver Nelson. As with his past big-band albums, he is joined by a cadre of top New York jazz luminaries, including saxophonists Steve Wilson and Ron Blake, trumpeters Freddie Hendrix and Brandon Lee, trombonist Steve Davis, pianist Xavier Davis, drummer Quincy Phillips, and others. Also on board are longtime McBride associates guitarist Mark Whitfield and organist Joey DeFrancesco, who help summon the urbane soulfulness of their forebears Smith and Montgomery. At the core of the album are a handful of songs culled from the classic 1966 albums Jimmy & Wes: The Dynamic Duo and The Further Adventures of Jimmy and Wes, both of which featured Smith and Montgomery with big-band arrangements by Nelson. Here, McBride kicks things off with a brassy arrangement of "Night Train" inspired by the 1966 version but anchored by his own wickedly bluesy take on the song's classic bass groove. Equally engaging are the band's renditions of Montgomery's moody, minor-key "Road Song" and their buoyant version of Miles Davis' "Milestones," the latter of which features Nelson's original arrangement. As on the 1966 albums, here McBride pairs down to a quartet with Whitfield, DeFrancesco, and drummer Phillips for a handful of equally engaging standards, including an urbane reading of Freddie Hubbard's "Up Jumped Spring," and a dusky take on the Billy Eckstein ballad "I Want to Talk to You." There are also two originals in McBride and Whitfield's "Medgar Evers' Blues" and McBride and DeFrancesco's "Pie Blues." For Jimmy, Wes, and Oliver is an ebullient album that evokes the earthy, artful spirit of the trio who inspired it.

Read Article: All Music