While Kind of Brown resists stylistic novelty, it does provide a highly entertaining way to revisit that old Blue Note sound while taking in something fresh.
Bassist Christian McBride and his quintet Inside Straight have a traditional allusion in both their group name and album title. While that fact may reflect on the music's accessibility and place in straightforward jazz lineages, it doesn't mean there's anything stale and stodgy on Kind of Brown. The disc contains the swinging side of McBride's work, incorporating some hard bop influences (aided by Carl Allen's drumming). The songs bounce along, and while McBride's playing never disappoints, he leaves room for his bandmates, and it's a tight outfit. The music may be straight-ahead, but it's not starchy; cuts like "Used 'Ta Could" emphasize the light-hearted pleasure available. One of the better surprises here is the unveiling of Warren Wolf, Jr. on vibes. McBride's former student holds his own here, showing not only flash but also a strong ability to integrate his playing with the vets surrounding him. While Kind of Brown resists stylistic novelty, it does provide a highly entertaining way to revisit that old Blue Note sound while taking in something fresh.