A longtime stalwart of the contemporary jazz scene, McBride takes a detour from his usual path for an intriguing new recording that reinterprets a dozen contemporary pop songs via straightahead jazz arrangements. Fleshed out with the help of a live trio - guitarist Dan Wilson, bassist Roger Hines and drummer Elijah Gilmore - Lookin' For A Change is a collection of songs originally written and recorded by a range of pop luminaries, including Gnarls Barkley, Coldplay, John Mayer, Seal and several others. These reinterpretations, along with three original compositions from McBride's own inspirational well, make for an engaging juxtaposition of the best elements of contemporary pop and traditional jazz.
The set opens with a buoyant take on Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," wherein McBride augments his energetic piano work with a vocal line reminiscent of Al Jarreau. Further into the set, McBride injects Corrine Bailey Rae's "Like a Star" with a Latin groove that's full of energy without being overbearing. In the home stretch, McBride's rendition of Seal's "Kiss From a Rose" puts a gentler jazz spin on this passionate ode without sacrificing any of the emotional impact of the source material. The set closes with the infectiously rhythmic title track, an appeal for greater tolerance and understanding in a rapidly evolving society. Written by McBride, the song is laced with subtle but unmistakable hints of R&B and funk amid the predominantly jazz-flavored arrangement. This is McBride at his best - sending a clear and positive message without delivering a heavy-handed sermon.
More than just pure musical entertainment, McBride sees Lookin' for a Change as a learning experience for listeners from different generations - himself included. As is so often the case, creating something new required a reacquaintance with the old stuff. "As the project came together, the process became very educational - for me as much as anyone else who heard some of the early tracks," says McBride. "I had forgotten some of the jazz roots of my youth, the straightahead stuff that I had learned back in high school and college - the Miles and the Coltrane and the Charlie Parker. So this project kind of took me back a little bit too. I had to really do my homework on some of the theory in this music."
But McBride has no reservations about digging in and doing the hard work for the sake of his craft. "I wouldn't trade now for any of the other years of my life," he says. "I feel very good about this record. I feel like I'm in a fresh spot. I'm ready to broaden my horizons, and maybe broaden the horizons of some of my listeners as well. It's all about the love for the music, and the willingness to try something new. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm trying something new every day."
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Kiss From A Rose
Lookin' For A Change
"[McBride's] choice of songs is nothing short of inspiring...The songs work because melodically each possesses the one quality that all great jazz tunes have - a melody that gives the players room to create, improvise and solo. Players and singers as good as McBride don't need much more than that to create great jazz. Now to be fair, a generation of younger jazz players have joined the venerable Hancock in chipping away at the wall for years. And with Lookin' for a Change, McBride is wielding a pretty big hammer. Highly Recommended." — Soul Tracks
"McBride has always been an incredible singer, composer and keyboardist, but the electronic element has limited him a bit in his quest to become a more artful jazz artist. Working with a trio, having a blast while creating classic jazz takes on some of our most beloved pop songs, he's well on his way. If that's not change, it's hard to know what is!" — JazzMonthly