Down Beat - 10/97, p.604 stars (out of 5)
- "One listen...and one could imagine a musical world with no other instruments....Brown is vibrantly there all disc long..."
Personnel: Ray Brown, John Clayton, Christian McBride (bass); Benny Green (piano); Gregory Hutchinson (drums).
Recorded at Sculler's, Boston, Massachsetts.
This live Boston summit meeting between Ray Brown, Christian McBride and John Clayton was the logical outcome of several joint appearances, as well as an extension of a one-off bass troika track that McBride included on his first solo album. The idea of a bass trio on records probably would have been unthinkable in the primitive days of recording when Brown was coming up, but Telarc's fabulously deep yet clear engineering makes it seem like a natural thing to do. Whether pizzicato or bowed, whether taking the melodic solo or plunking down the 4/4 bottom line, all three perform with amazing panache, taste, humor, lack of ego, and the sheer joy of talking to and against each other beneath the musical staff. But if one has to pick out a single star, the choice has to be McBride, whose unshakeable time, solid tone and amazing ability to play his cumbersome bull fiddle like a horn stands out in astonishing fashion on the right speaker. On two tracks, the fleet-fingered Benny Green and drummer Gregory Hutchinson join Brown to form a conventional trio that serves as an effective change of pace. It's a fun set without a doubt, but these guys are also clearly making coherent music, and that is what will hold our interest over the long haul. ~ Richard S. Ginell