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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Live at the Village Vanguard

Mack Avenue MAC 1099



1. Fried Pies

2. Band Introduction

3. Interlude

4. Sand Dune

5. The Lady in My Life

6. Cherokee

7. Good Morning Heartache

8. Down by the Riverside

9. Car Wash

Christian McBride - Bass

Christian Sands - Piano

Ulysses Owens Jr. - Drums

Guy Barker, at the opening concert of this year's London Jazz Festival, reminded us that it is now eighty years since the iconic Village Vanguard in New York's Greenwich Village first opened its doors. Bassist McBride's trio is the latest in a long line of classy jazz trios and small groups that have recorded `Live at the Village Vanguard'. Those very words bring a promise of high quality music and this excellent trio certainly delivers.

Sands and Owens may be less well-known than their illustrious boss, but they are by no means overshadowed. On the evidence of this recording, Christian Sands, who has been mentored by Hank Jones, is clearly one of the most promising young pianists on the New York jazz scene. His remarkable skills are fully displayed on the first track, a breezy Wes Montgomery tune. McBride plays the first of many outstanding bass solos which have echoes of the great Scott LaFaro from the iconic Bill Evans trio recordings of fifty years earlier.

Interlude, one of many catchy tunes written by J.J.Johnson, has a lively exchange between McBride and his excellent drummer, Owens. Sands contributes an attractive original, Sand Dune, that would not disgrace Wayne Shorter. The Lady in My Life, a song associated with one Michael Jackson, is a funky ballad that starts quietly and builds compellingly.

Ray Noble might not recognise his big hit tune such is the frenetic pace at which it is played, but it's a pleasurable excuse for a breathtaking display by Sands and another virtuoso solo by McBride. Then the mood quietens for an arco solo by the leader and an opportunity for Sands to show his reflective side on Good Morning, Heartache.

The set ends with a rousing version of the old pop hit, Car Wash, with audience participation - not something that Bill Evans would ever have encouraged!

The Village Vanguard management should be well-pleased with another very entertaining live recording bearing their name.

George Stacy

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