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November 06


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Christian McBride
Live at Tonic


From a reviewer standpoint, I’d rather just listen to this 3-disc masterpiece than write about it. It makes you move, makes you bob your head, makes you happy — sitting in front of a screen seems nonsensical because McBride is sketching the feelings within anyway; words can be a damper. One-word adjectives like “excellent,” “superb” or “sensational” don’t really reflect what this CD is about.

The artistic expanse of bassist Christian McBride in playing and improvising what is both familiar and so remarkably fresh, along with his band of Geoffrey Keezer on keyboards, Terreon Gully on drums and Ron Blake, sax and flute, makes Live at Tonic one of the top-10 best jazz CDs released in 2006. This is excellence; this is heart, soul, love, life, creativity and humanity-grabbin’-everyone-is-part-of-this-moment fun.

Disc 1 is made up of the best takes from the first sets of both nights at the NYC club. Disc 2 features Charlie Hunter on guitar, Jason Moran on piano and Jenny Schienman on violin. Dj Logic, turntables, Scratch, beat box, Eric Krasno, guitar, and Rashawn Ross on trumpet join McBride on Disc 3. Every cut is worth the time spent with it, but let me indulge with my favorites: “Say Something,” (Disc 1), “Lower East Side/Rock Jam (Disc 2) and all the jams — “E Jam,” “Ab Minor Jam,” “D Shuffle Jam” and “D Shuffle Jam (part 2) on Disc 3.

Okay, this is how I would sum it up: Disc 1, kick ass, Disc 2, kick ass more so and Disc 3, oh man, this is really kick ass. Live at Tonic causes old white guys do a stiff-legged shuffle over to black gals fanning themselves. —Bruce Rodgers (posted 11/17/06)

When Your Heart Stops Beating


“We were two-thirds of blink-182, so we’re not afraid of sounding like ourselves.”

Obviously, singer-bassist Mark Hoppus of +44 is confident of the new group’s sound after the break-up of Blink 182 almost two years ago. He has good reason. If the break-up hadn’t been all over the radio, it would be easy to believe this to be Blink’s latest release. The +44 musicians managed to maintain the pop-punk sound they were know for in their wildly successful past.

While the music feels upbeat, the lyrics aren’t recommended for anyone with suicidal tendencies. Lines like let’s slit our wrists and burn down something beautiful from “No, It Isn’t” and you smile while twisting the knife in my stomach/until everything is gone from “Lillian” can bring a depressed listener down even further. Band members do admit that a lot of the effort put into this album is to express how they feel about their previous bands break-up, giving the impression it wasn’t mutual.

Not everything on the album is that glum though. The first cut, “When Your Heart Stops Beating,” is about being there for the one you love and screw the rest of the world. However, the upbeat songs are the minority.

For Blink 182 fans this is a step in the right direction for the new band. Just keep in mind that like anyone coming out of a break-up, they have a few things to get out of their system. —Ron Johnson (posted 11/17/06)

Wayne Hancock


Perennial country and R&B musician Wayne “The Train” Hancock’s newest album was made in two and a half days, and kicks off with a fancy swing number praising the beauty and super-coolness of…Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Now, being that this humble critic is himself a Sooner, and like most Oklahomans has traveled through Tulsa a few times (often at a questionable rate of speed), such claims of magnificence would seem a little questionable, in the same way that it was perhaps a little questionable to invade Iraq. All that bein’ said, damn, you got to give some serious props to the “Train”, and all his musical engineers for creating one of the best and purest blues and country albums in years.

Right from that swingin’ first number Hancock pulls that throttle and never stops, rollin’ through classic twangy blues (“I Don’t Care Anymore”) to home-style country and back, with just the right number of stops on the track. Backed by Eddie River’s fantastic steel guitar, particularly on “Gonna Be Flyin’ Tonight,” and a whole posse of equally impressive musicians, Hancock excels in writing and performing full, rich and fun home-down music that easily channels the likes of Roy Orbison and Hank Williams, always with a simple country affability unlike that standard obnoxiousness that is most musician’s bread and butter. You think some asshole rock star singer would stop to dedicate a song to some friend’s newborn baby girl? Probably not. (By the way just a little projection: The Killers have jumped the shark, big time — hey, everybody gets to dream…)

If you like good music, buy this album, support a damn fine musician and have a great ride on this train, cause no ride goes on forever…hell, you may even want to visit Tulsa!

But don’t. Really. —Brandon Whitehead (posted 11/03/06)

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