In 2007, Grammy Award-winning bassist Christian McBride downsized from his past projects, a big band and a septet, with the establishment of a trio. With the release of the 2013 album, “Out Here,” and a busy touring schedule, McBride’s trio with pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. is making an impression.
McBride has learned from an impressive list of musicians—Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins, Chick Corea and Ray Brown, to name a few. Brown was especially influential. In a video conversation with Sands and Owen, McBride talked about Brown, saying, “In a trio setting, my hero was Ray Brown, and he was also like a second father to me.”
With this new project, McBride takes the role of mentor as well. In 2007, McBride called Sands and Owens for a gig without the intention of starting a working band. The outpouring of positive feedback from the audience and the fun he had inspired him to start the trio with Sands and Owens, who were then in their 20s.
Judging from the album, “Out Here,” you can expect clean, tight and swinging music from the trio at Scullers. “Out Here” is a break from the odd-meter, genre bending sound prevalent in a lot of modern jazz. It’s a collection of standards with some McBride originals thrown in, for the most part played in a straight-ahead style.
Because of its small size, the trio setting gives McBride a chance to showcase his talent as a soloist. He plays the melody on a few tracks of “Out Here” — an unusual move for a bass player. But with his tone and agility, McBride is far from the usual bass player. On “East of the Sun (And West of the Moon),” for example, McBride doesn’t stray from the original melodic lines, emphasizing his rich, round sound. He then launches into a solo, backed by sparse, but tasteful fillers by Sands and Owens, where he effortlessly incorporates the kind of busy lines one is used to hearing from a horn player.
Here’s a video of McBride on “East of the Sun.”
This trio is one of the many highlights of McBride’s long and varied career. We can look forward to the biography of James Brown he’s hoping to publish next year and a band, inspired by George Duke fusing jazz, soul and R&B, also being launched next year. For now, head to Scullers where the spotlight will be on the trio.