Review: Joshua Redman and Christian McBride at Wigmore Hall

Christian McBride, Joshua Redman, Wigmore Hall 2013
Photo Credit: ©Andy Sheppard – www.lowlightphoto.co.uk

Joshua Redman and Christian McBride
(Wigmore Hall. 11th May 2013. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

A rare treat, this gig. Quite how rare only emerged gradually during the course of the evening. Joshua Redman mused that it must have been “at least five years” since he and Christian McBride had appeared anywhere formally billed as a duo; McBride was convinced that it had only ever happened just once before, in San Fancisco, in 2001.

But if detailed memories of past gigs were hard to capture, the musical memories of both players seemed like a completely inexhaustible well. At no point in their single, generous 100-minute set did one feel the need for anyone else to be there on stage with them. Redman takes such care of the inner logic of every phrase, and also of the quality and beauty and personality of his sound, there is always completeness, balance and vivacity in what he does. McBride similarly just seemed indefatigable, and again that sense of his complete, naturally easeful balance alongside his perfectly perpendicular upright bass was a constant. The upbeat closer Sunny Side of the Street seemed every bit as fresh as the opener, Ray Bryant’s Chicken an’ Dumplings. There was that sense of never breaking sweat, as if both men have ever more tricks up their sleeves waiting to be brought to the party.

The pair were in several bands together simultaneously in the mid-nineties (check this Youtube clip of the Redman./ Mehldau/ McBride Quartet in Munich from 1994 ) and their musical dialogue always seemed like the civilized banter of firm friends capable of picking up old conversations any time they meet. They both seemed particularly to like the seditious idea of bringing a bit of the octave-jumping funk and the stop-time of Eddie Harris’s Cold Duck Time into the hallowed preserve of the Wigmore where the lofty spirits of, say, Busoni and Lionel Tertis somehow still hover.

This morning, what remains indelibly imprinted on my mind’s ear is the sheer vitality and insistent challenge of the second bead slap from McBride on his strings in Dizzy Gillespie’s Manteca. But that was just one pleasure in an evening of constant delight, which brought a much younger-than-usual Wigmore full house pleadingly to its feet several times, right from the first moment when there was the slightest hint that the evening might come to an end. Please come back!

Categories: miscellaneous

1 reply »

  1. You hit the nail on the head as usual, Sebastian. Stunning musical chemistry delivered with such humility, and a lovely vibe from an (unusually?) relaxed and good-humoured Wigmore crowd.

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