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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - ‘Vertical Vision’ (Warner Bros.)
Artist - Christian McBride Band
Vertical Vision’s greatest virtue is it’s an album that can be easily listened to over and over again, no matter where you stand, no matter where you sit. Any one of these cuts could be heard by a non-jazz fan and still be enjoyed, and yet, there is still plenty of compositional and improvisational meat for the hardcore ‘jazz-head.’ Vertical Vision represents a significant step forward from McBride's last outing, Science Fiction. Each element -Latin, funk, straight-ahead, ballad - seems to be more organic, deeper, more natural. For Latin, check out the breezy, free-flowing "Song for Maya," with its glorious flute stylings by Ron Blake. For funk, tune in on "Boogie Woogie Waltz," again featuring a transcendent Ron Blake, this time on soprano sax. I especially like the nuevo-African outro. For more funk, don't miss out on "Technicolor Nightmare," featuring some scorching guitar work from David Gilmore. For gorgeous balladry, dig into "Tahitian Pearl," with Keezer leading the way on some very tasty electric piano and Ron Blake persuasively swinging on tenor sax. Some of these cuts skate quite close to that dreaded musical hell-hole, "smooth jazz," but their compositional rigor combined with the players' deep commitment to and knowledge of the jazz tradition always steers them clear of disaster!
Kevin Tate