JOE McBRIDE: Lookin’ For A Change (Label: Heads Up)

  • Home
  • Reviews
  • JOE McBRIDE: Lookin’ For A Change (Label: Heads Up)
JOE McBRIDE: Lookin' For A Change

Working out of Texas, Joe McBride has become one of America’s most popular contemporary pianists. His work is one of the mainstays of America’s many smooth jazz radio stations, though to brand his work “smooth” – or worse, “lite” – is to do it a huge disservice. McBride began playing piano as a child and even degenerative eye problems and eventually the loss of his sight couldn’t deter him from his musical studies. A move from Missouri to Texas, found the young player keen to immerse himself in the jazz underground of the Lone Star State and he soon developed a distinctive, rhythmic – even percussive – style that’s made his albums good sellers. On those albums, Joe always recorded a number of vocals and now he’s decided to record a whole album of them. More, where his previous recordings have featured McBride originals with a smattering of covers, this one reverses the situation – more covers than originals. Then, to make sure the music lives up to its ‘Lookin’ For A Change’ billing, Joe eschewed his normal recording method and cut the dozen tunes using the same trio of sidemen – Dan Wilson (guitar), Elijah Gilmore (drums) and Roger Hines (upright bass). Playing acoustically, their contributions were all recorded live giving the album a fresh (for the 21st. century at least) and organic sound, heard to best effect on the cover of John Mayer’s ‘Say’. The song is perfectly suited to McBride’s new approach and the underplayed cut is a real delight – light, yet soulfully committed. The same goes for the versions of Corrine Bailey Rae’s ‘Like a Star’ and Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’ – obvious contenders for the new McBride approach. But he doesn’t always go for the obvious. He also works his magic on stuff like Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ and Cameo’s ‘Word Up’ – not the first things you’d think might benefit from an acoustic jazz treatment. In some ways the approach is similar to the way in which Paul Anka recorded tunes like ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and ‘Wonderwall’ in a big-band, swing setting, but this set is much gentler with vocals that, in places, might remind you of Al Jarreau, especially on McBride’s own ‘It’s Over Now’. Looking for a change? You’ll find it here.
(BB) 4/5