You Gotta Know When to Fold 'Em.
I wanted to like this record, on the basis that Joe McBride seems like a pretty good guy, and the other basis that not many smooth-jazz bluesmen interrupt their semi-concept album about poker and gambling with a version of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”
Sadly, however, it didn’t work out, because the album doesn’t have a lot to it. It’s cute enough, I suppose, in a 1970s-groove sort of way. “Double Down” could almost be mistaken for one of those Bob James grooves they used to play on the radio when I was in sixth grade, and that goes for “No Limit” as well I guess, because they both sound like the same song to me.
My favorite song here is “I’m Here For You”, because McBride has an expressive whispery voice—no beauty there, but lots of honesty. But most of the record is instrumentals, and they all just kind of sit there, like a lump of oatmeal in the stomach. McBride’s band, the Texas Rhythm Club, is good at what they do. What they do, however, is the big problem here.
It’s probably just my hangup here. I don’t see the need for smooth jazz, in this world or any other. I think it’s lazy and boring music, I think it actively betrays Monk and Coltrane and Rollins and Threadgill and Coleman and Fitzgerald and Ellington and anyone who ever took a chance with a solo or a composition. Smooth jazz, in my opinion, is responsible for a lot of people hating jazz music overall. I know I’m being a prick for saying this, but there it is.
So the fact that this is an okay enough example of smooth jazz is not very helpful to me. If you love that kind of thing, here’s 53 minutes of it. If you are an obsessive collector of versions of Iron Butterfly songs, you need this. Otherwise, do the Dionne Warwick and walk on by.
// Notes from the Road
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