The fusion licks of bassist Christian McBride and his bandmates are so tight that you have to wonder whether they could play this stuff in their sleep. That's a common problem in fusion, for which there are a number of solutions. One is to rely on virtuoso displays, which is the tactic McBride, keyboardist Geoffrey Keezer, saxophonist Ron Blake, and drummer Terreon Gully take on disc 1. It works, but things are more interesting on the second and third discs, where a varied cast of guests joins McBride and his core band and helps give both sets the feel of a loose jam. You sense that this is music made in the moment, that not even the musicians themselves know exactly where things are going. Disc 2 is better, with guitarist Charlie Hunter, violinist Jenny Scheinman and pianist Jason Moran all wailing. (And if you doubt that this is pure improv, listen to Moran inject a riff from "Planet Rock" that no one else picks up.) Disc 3 features guitarist Eric Krasno, trumpeter Rashawn Ross (Soulive), turntablist DJ Logic, and beat-boxer Scratch. It occasionally devolves into musical show-and-tell, but the energy is always nonstop, and that's something no one can do in their sleep.
W. Kim Heron is the editor of Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.