One might assume that bassist Christian McBride's KIND OF BROWN would be a tribute to Ray Brown. In fact, this music bears a strong resemblance to the late-'60s to mid-'70s Blue Note recordings of the legendary Bobby Hutcherson-Harold Land quintet. A new discovery in vibraphonist Warren Wolf, Jr., teamed with veteran saxophonist Steve Wilson, the wonderful pianist Eric Reed, and drummer Carl Allen makes McBride's quintet Inside Straight one of the more melodically tuneful and harmonically focused contemporary ensembles now playing. McBride is almost an equal in this company, putting aside his furious note playing for a more democratic role in an extraordinarily balanced small combo. The similarities to the Hutcherson-Land group are unmistakable, from the tick-tock rhythm and melodic line similar to Hutch and Herbie Hancock's classic composition "Blow Up" on "Brother Mister" to the steady swinger "Rainbow Wheel" and "Pursuit of Peace," with its probing basslines. The athletic and quirky "Stick and Move" is hard-charging bop at its best with Reed leading. McBride's role as a leader is more pronounced on "Theme for Kareem," an ultra-tight, very hip tune that has potential standard written all over it.
Clifford Brown: "Best Coast Jazz" is the Five Star bookend session to "Clifford Brown All Stars", both having been recorded at the same session in Los Angeles in 1954. On the vinyl LP, each song took up a side, allowing for plenty of blowing room. "BCJ" would be released in 1955. One year later, Clifford Brown (and pianist Richie Powell and wife) would be dead from a car wreck on the Penn Turnpike during a rainstorm. Thus altering the course of jazz trumpet history in one tragic act. "CBAS" would be hurriedly released following the accident and we would once again shake our heads at the tremendous loss of trumpet genius Clifford Brown.