Christian McBride’s New Jawn @ The Jazzlab19 June 2018
This review is part of our coverage of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.
Christian McBride’s performance was a charismatic and captivating expression of experimental jazz. The bassist’s new quartet, New Jawn—consisting of Josh Evans (trumpet), Marcus Strickland (sax) and Nasheet Waits (drums)—lit up the Jazzlab stage and impressed a star-struck audience. A first-timer in the Jazzlab’s walls, I paired the performance with a White Russian from the bar. The cocktail complemented Chris’s silky and relaxed playing style, who used a bow for the gentler and joyously melodic composition of ‘Kush’, a piece composed by drummer Nasheet. However, often the performance was brighter and increasingly fast-paced, demanding attention from the audience with exciting solos from the brass boys, while Chris and Nasheet developed a new found synergy that could only be described as a hidden energy exposed by the medium of New Jawn.
An impressive element of the performance was the variety of inspiration from which the music came from. All musicians contributed their own compositions, which after being tailored to this unique quartet expressed a certain type of feeling. Most memorable was the front man’s tribute to the passing of a friend, to which he displayed a vulnerability within his music. During his solo of this piece, Chris cradled his instrument, which he aptly named Sheila for his Australian tour and told a story of sorrow and loss. When I arrived home my housemate asked if there was a goosebumps moment, and this melancholy solo certainly did make my body hair erect. New to Melbourne jazz scene but an avid listener, Christian McBride’s cinematic quartet wet my appetite while setting the bar extraordinarily high.