Christian McBride Quartet/Diana Krall Trio | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Christian McBride Quartet/Diana Krall Trio

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Nothing breeds nostalgia like an imminent finale. Apparently not even Joe Segal can exempt himself from that dictum; with his Jazz Showcase counting down the last weeks at its current address, he's reached back into jazz history to briefly resurrect the twin bill, a program of alternating sets by two bands. Nonetheless, the booking couldn't be more contemporary: it features two of the hotter young lions in jazz (or in this case, one lion and one lioness). Bassist Christian McBride had reportedly appeared as a sideman on some 70 jazz dates before making his debut as a leader--at the age of 23--with the recent Gettin' to It (Verve). McBride plays with a neurosurgeon's precision; his control of tone rivals that of a Dutch master; and his musical gracefulness--his knack for doing the right thing at the right time--makes Fred Astaire look clumsy. For all that, one hopes McBride will soon establish a musical personality of his own: at the moment he comes off sounding like the all-too-legitimate son of the impeccable Ray Brown. His quartet stars Tim Warfield, one of the best (if least publicized) of today's young tenor men, and a primary reason for catching this gig. They'll share the stage with pianist and vocalist Diana Krall, whose own debut--Only Trust Your Heart (GRP)--places her firmly in the jazz tradition. On it, the Canadian-born Krall plays with competence and verve, but you'd have trouble picking her piano out of a crowd. On the other hand, her voice has a bluesy, womanly quality; it has more in common with the singers of a previous generation than her own, and it provides the surest route to her potential success. Since McBride plays on Krall's album, the opportunity exists for a little musical mix and match on the Showcase stage; barring that, you can still investigate the early work of two artists who you'll probably be hearing well into the next century. Through Sunday, Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4846.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Jimmy Katz.

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