By Hilary Brown | Published November 2018
The word “jawn”— a fresh new phenomenon—is familiar argot to Christian McBride, a Philadelphia native. And when it comes to trailblazing new, cool jazz concepts in eponymous trios or big bands, the venerable bassist always delivers. Enter his latest jawn—a pianoless quartet, born of a New York scene that sates East Coast soul-seekers and purists alike. Christian McBride’s New Jawn faithfully salutes its forebears—Gerry Mulligan, Ornette Coleman and the like—but leave it to this next-gen assimilation of bandleaders to take musical liberties.
No doubt, the Philly flavor is present—tight instrumentation, fast-and-loose percussive subtlety and soul for days. Trumpeter Josh Evans and saxophonist Marcus Strickland rewrite the rulebook, bringing asymmetrical whimsy to the drive of “Walkin’ Funny” and “Middle Man,” and moody suspense to the balladeering on “Ernie Washington” and “John Day,” all with impressive linearity. A proper captain, McBride always brings the swing full-circle, setting pace with a particularly pulsating solo on “Seek The Source.” He also finds a confidante in rising drummer Nasheet Waits, who rides the pocket dutifully, even on the shimmering, slow groove of “Kush.”
For the faithful, stick around for bonus tracks—“Brother Malcolm” shines lyrical motives and anthemic political perspective on this mix, and live track “Obsequious” finally takes a raucous instrumental plunge previewed on “Ke-Kelli Sketch,” something eagerly craved at the 11th hour.
Christian McBride’s New Jawn: Walkin’ Funny; Ke-Kelli Sketch; Ballad Of Ernie Washington; The Middle Man; Pier One Import; Kush; Seek The Source; John Day; Sightseeing; Brother Malcolm; Obsequious. (55:75).
Personnel: Christian McBride, bass; Josh Evans, trumpet; Marcus Strickland, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, Nasheet Waits, drums.