Christian McBride Trio: swinging a Full House at Ronnie Scott’s – EFG London Jazz Festival

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It’s no wonder that bassist Christian McBride can so easily sell out Ronnie’s for two nights; an increasingly omnipresent figure in the jazz world for twenty years now, he’s worked with a who’s who of jazz giants such as Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny and to R&B/soul luminaries such as Isaac Hayes and James Brown, not forgetting hip-hop/neo soul stars The Roots and D’Angelo, or the likes of Sting and Carly Simon.

So on this Tuesday night, the second of two sold-out shows as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival, he stretched out in the relaxed setting of his acoustic trio with two hand-picked young talents: Christian Sands on the piano and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. What held their Trio together were its hardcore swinging, bluesy way of playing and their effortless communication, as they performed music from McBride’s fifth album, Out Here (Mack Avenue). This included ‘I Guess I’ll Have to Forget’, with McBride dedicating other tunes to Prince and the jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard.

Their performance also benefited from the club’s highly conducive setting for this kind of tight-but loose trio jazz, accentuated by the venue’s intimate atmosphere. As things built to an energised crescendo, one of the most astonishing highlights of the evening was when the charismatic pianist plucked the inner-strings of the grand piano in heart-stopping style. As things got more heated and the set moved from jazz to soul to funk, the audience began to move. It was almost a shame that there wasn’t more room for dancing. All in all, the extraordinary atmosphere and McBride’s infectious swinging style made the audience truly forget their daily sorrows.

– Monika Demmler