Vertical Vision

Christian McBride Band will be performing at Yoshi’s in Oakland April 11-13.

This is a crazy little CD. I should have known right off the bat, when it jumped from the initial 16 seconds of grainy, old-time jazz into the rockin’ fusion sounds of “Technicolor Nightmare.” Vertical Vision (Warner, 2003) gets you thinking one thing and then surprises you with the unexpected.

Christian McBride and his band pull off this wild ride partly through their use of numerous instruments. McBride plays electric and upright bass, Ron Blake tenor and soprano sax and flute, and Geoffrey Keezer piano and keyboards. David Gilmore pitches in on acoustic and electric guitar. Terreon Gully and Danny Sadownick add to the sonic mix on drums and various percussion, respectively.

McBride has a varied palette of sounds to work with, as well as an often-changing landscape of rhythmic ideas. His version of a ballad (“The Ballad of Little Girl Dancer”—written by McBride, as are most of the tunes on this CD) and a waltz (“Boogie Woogie Waltz”) are likely like none you’ve ever heard before. “Ballad…” starts out mellow (maybe a little too smooth) but soon jumps into a bouncy, quirky interplay between the tenor sax and spacey, boingy keyboard sounds, driven along by the drummer and McBride’s funky electric bass. It becomes quite interesting to see down which musical tunnel McBride will lead you next. Warning: Not for the unadventurous!