Mack Avenue Superband
Live From The 2015 Detroit Jazz Festival
Mack Avenue Records
The Mack Avenue Record label “follows a tradition of record labels, no matter what genre, having a sense of pride in their roster”. The Superband was born when they first appeared in Hart Plaza at the 2012 Detroit Jazz Festival. The ensemble consists of various all-star artists, mostly bandleaders, who are part of the Mack Avenue Records roster. This is the fourth album in a series documenting this annual event.
This time the ensemble is under the musical direction of Christian McBride. They consist of McBride, who records as a trio or with his quintet “Inside Straight” (and is a sideman with over three hundred recordings to his credit), acoustic bass; Carl Allen, drums; Christian Sands, piano; Freddie Hendrix, trumpet; Kirk Whalum, tenor sax, Tia Fuller, alto and soprano sax; and Gary Burton, vibes.
The album opens with Whalum’s soul jazz composition “Preach Hank! The gospel influenced piece is a tribute to R n’B sax great Hank Crawford. Trumpeter Freddie Hendrix’s “Sudden Impact” follows with solos from both Hendrix and pianist Sands.
McBride then introduces his own composition “Paint Brushes” which features the entire ensemble. Possibly the greatest mallet player of all-time Burton contributes “All You Have to Be is You”. Saxophonist Fuller’s “Decisive Steps” follows and once again Hendrix is featured on trumpet.
The only tune not contributed by a band member is the Monk-inspired “Test of Time” written by pianist Makoto Ozone. It features the horn section of Hendrix, Fuller and Whalum. The set closes with pianist Sands eleven minute “Up!” allowing each of the band members a chance to solo.
The Mack Avenue Superband is touring this year. A full performance schedule is to be announced. If you purchase only one jazz album this year this should be the one.