Six years have passed since the release of The Good Feeling, Christian McBride’s Grammy-winning debut as a big-band leader. But he’s been busy: During that time the bassist-composer became the voice of NPR’s Jazz Night in America and the artistic director of the Newport Jazz Festival, continued his work as an educator and a leader of small groups, served as a prolific sideman and more. For Bringin’ It, McBride arranged all but two tracks, going for a canny balance between the swinging, the funky and the cool; his charts are precise but he encourages the soloists to go out on a limb, the majority of them returnees from the earlier project. It’s a firecracker of a recording.
“Gettin’ to It,” the Tower of Power-esque lead track, one of three penned by McBride, pushes a trio of the band’s stars—trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, tenor saxophonist Ron Blake and guitarist Rodney Jones (who, sadly, appears on only one other track)—to the forefront. Hendrix’s first break is a relentless jolt, an early notification that this is not your grandpa’s big band.