Christopher McBride Quartet
Superb Chicago alto saxophonist Christopher McBride has been slowly but steadily turning heads with his ubiquitous work as an invaluable sideman since the mid-aughts. In fact, he’s played on Chicago Jazz Festival stages for the last two years, alongside trumpeter Marquis Hill and singer Milton Suggs. But the time has come for him to take a bow as a bandleader, and his 2012 debut album Quatuor de Force certainly establishes his ability to front a group and write his own soulful, melodically indelible tunes.
In those other contexts McBride frequently unleashes a fiery attack and serrated tone, but on his recent album he explores a more measured, mellow sound heavily influenced by contemporary R&B—with a strong shot of Cannonball Adderley’s post-bop sensuality–but his improvising is still rigorous and cogent. For his first Jazz Festival slot as a leader McBride performs with guitarist Jeff Swanson, bassist Michael Lough, and drummer Xavier Breaker.