Christian McBride, The Q Sessions Review
By Sylvannia Garutch
Christian McBride is releasing an EP from his partnership with Qobuz, the Hi-Res streaming and download service, called The Q Sessions EP. Last year, the three songs were released exclusively through their streaming platform, and the project is now available across all platforms. The seven-time GRAMMY® Award-winning bassist is joined by saxophonist Marcus Strickland, drummer Eric Harland, and guitarist Mike Stern. Last year, the ensemble went to NYC’s Power Station to record three start-to-finish Hi-Res songs commissioned by Qobuz. The project was created with top-notch equipment at 24-bit/192kHz quality, and the final product streams and downloads with the exact same sound, tones, and touches in which it was first recorded. The EP features three songs, a blues improv, one standard, and one new original commissioned by Qobuz (“Brouhaha,” a song inspired by the then-recent passing of Chick Corea). The Q Sessions was custom designed for jazz fans who turn to Qobuz for the best quality sound. This EP joins Qobuz’s already established catalog of exclusive content – expert penned “panorama” interactive essays, artist-created playlists, liner notes, and lyric booklets – to add to the platform’s reputation for the best listening experience in the field.
“Blues connotation” is the opening selection and starts with the ensemble layering in for an improvisation on the blues form. McBride’s swing feel anchors the pulse as Harland performs rhythmic coloration around the soloist. Stern’s solo builds as his instantly identifiable tone and rock-bop vocabulary fills the airwaves with his joyous swinging lines. Strickland dives into the form headfirst as he converses with Stern and Harland. McBride’s solo is technically flawless as he navigates the double bass with agility and melodic freedom. The trading with Harland is the icing on the cake, as the ensemble wraps up the jam with a musical celebration of creating in the moment.
“Brouhaha” is the McBride original inspired by Corea. The melody is a catchy modern jazz figure with a funky jazz feel that gives the ensemble an excellent vehicle for improvisation. “What a pleasure it was to put together a special group featuring one of my favorite guitarists of all time, Mike Stern. It was a great day in the studio with Mike, Marcus, and Eric – not only jamming a couple of tunes but to also record a new original of mine, ‘Brouhaha,'” said McBride. The groove is deep during the solos as McBride and Harland create a deep pocket. Stern’s solo is filled with chromatic approaches and emotional bends. This is the highlight of the project in performance and composition.
The Q Sessions is an outstanding project from the ever-creative McBride. The three songs give ample space for the ensemble to stretch out and express themselves. Plus, McBride has added another catchy tune to his catalog with the well-written “Brouhaha.” Stern and McBride have incredible chemistry, and jazz fans will want to drink deeply from this project.