Christian McBride’s New Jawn
with Marcus Strickland, Josh Evans & Nasheet Waits
Bassist Christian McBride named New Jawn after the ubiquitous Philadelphia slang for a thing, idea, or just about anything else. Compared with the other ensembles he leads, this pianoless quartet feels looser and fierier, driven as it is by the explosive drummer Nasheet Waits. The whole band—which also includes trumpeter Josh Evans and saxophonist Marcus Strickland—contributed compositions to its eponymous 2018 debut, a wonderfully soulful, exploratory session that reveals a different side of the leader.
Depending on the tune the group can go out, engaging in some flinty four-way improvisation as on “Ke-Kelli Sketch,” a loose form mapped out by Waits where the quartet moves in and out of notated material, but it can also unfurl uncanny beauty as on the trumpeter’s tender “Ballad of Ernie Washington.” Ultimately, the quartet embraces the kind of spontaneity that fuels jazz, particularly when it’s about group interaction and rapport.
McBride always brings poise and polish to the bandstand, but with his New Jawn he retains the scrappy spontaneity and risk-taking that happens in the club, bridging post-bop and free jazz with empathic heat.