Cutting an album at the Village Vanguard is both a rite of passage and an attempt to take one’s own place in a particularly hallowed hall of live recordings. But it’s evident here, with the opening take of Wes Montgomery’s “Fried Pies,” that Christian McBride’s trio is more than capable of advancing on both fronts. McBride dubs drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. his American Express, as he’s loath to leave home without him, and with the kick the man provides it’s no wonder. The opener has a taut, bracing solo that pianist Christian Sands helps transition into a percussive duet before the central refrain comes roaring back in, McBride’s bass encircling the driving progressions of his counterparts.
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