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Christian McBride at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts

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Talk about Fahrenheit! Christian McBride, or C McB as I like to call him, and his band take all of the soul, funk, rock and deep rooted jazz spirit and fuse it into the music. There is a past, present and a future in jazz music and this group of great players is one that will take us on uncharted territories. With a blend of acoustic, percussion, electric and brass, the Christian McBride band is full of personality, charisma and dynamics that direct this band of leaders to carve their own path. This is a close knit group of kindred spirits who know exactly when “The Vibe is Right”!

This performance at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts is the beginning of a 2 week European tour. From here they are headed to Half Moon Bay, back to New York and then off to Europe. Talent begets talent and each one of these players has been blessed to absorb some of the riches from our jazz historians. The genius, Geoff Keezer on Piano and synthesizer has played with Art Blakey, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Ray Brown and a whole host of others. Can you imagine that! He looks like he is 20! Ron Blake has played with the one and only Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby Hutcherson, Gary Bartz, Johnny Griffin, Roy Hargrove and others. Terreon “Tank” Gully, the power from East St. Louis, has played with Stefon Harris, Russell Gunn and has been a key driving force in the C McB band. I don’t even need to go into who Christian has played with. This is just an example of the tremendous wisdom these four players have encountered.

Christian wrote a tune called “Wizard of Montera” for Bobby Hutcherson, one of my personal heroes as well. He started out the concert with a tune that I quite frequently played on my show call “EGAD” which, I believe, represents the strings on the bass. Geoff Keezer composed a beautifully mystical warm intergalactic piece called “Tahitian Pearl”. Geoff Keezer on piano and Christian on the bow is something to experience. Melodic and resonating with fairytalish memories of the happy wonders of childhood. Ron pulls out the flute on this one and, although not a Brazilian piece, his flute sings like one of her beauties. Terreon is so very present on every tune. Laying back in the cut and controlling the tempo with flawless transitions from 0 to 60 instantly. These are some wonderful compositions and are much appreciated by the audience.

Since this is a double-bill with John Scofield, Larry Goldings and Jack Dejohnette, the set is only 75 minutes long. A bit too short for my taste but, any taste of this band is a pallet pleaser and worth the price of admission. The set closes with a Joe Zawinul original called “Boogie Woogie Wails”, a burning tune that they close every show with. It rocks hard and crosses all the genres of music. We call these guys jazz cats because that is how we relate to them. But, the bottom line is that they are all great musicians and all they want to do is put out great music. Mission accomplished!

LeRoy Downs

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