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Positive Feedback ISSUE 21
september/october 2005


From Heads Up International and Telarc comes the latest from Joe McBride
by Karl Lozier


Joe McBride and the Texas Rhythm Club, Texas Hold ‘Em (Heads Up HUCD 3103)

After listening to this enjoyable recording three times, I thought it would be tough to describe because it covers so many bases. I have commented very favorably about the variety on some recent Telarc and Heads Up releases, and the variety on this new release is the equal of any. Though known as a contemporary jazz composer, McBride's styles on this disc include blues, pop, and smooth contemporary jazz, with strong hints of soul and even gospel! It is very common for releases featuring a single artist performing his own compositions to be repetitious, with the audio mix emphasizing his instrument. That is not true here. The variety showcased on this disc is beautiful and often subtle, and—as is becoming typical for jazz releases from Heads Up and Telarc—the sound is smooth and full-range.

The program includes unfamiliar titles such as "Double Down," "Texas Hold ‘Em," "No Limit," "All In," and "One Eyed Jack." All of the compositions are by McBride, with the exception of "In A Garden of Eden" (aka "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," the classic hard-rock hit by Iron Butterfly). McBride's much shorter take on this famous hit is much more cool-jazz-oriented. McBride's vocals are heard on a couple of the selections. This, McBride's seventh release for Heads Up, again features his long-time touring band, the Texas Rhythm Club. They have been playing together for more than a decade, and are a formidable, very talented music-making group, easily on a par with McBride. While he leads on keyboards, the other instrumentalists are equally featured, playing saxophones, flugelhorn, trumpet, guitar, electric bass, upright bass, and drums.

This experienced group plays so well and so idiomatically that the (mainly) original compositions sound like old favorites. McBride's excellent playing and Heads Up's sympathetic audio quality make it easy to give this release my highest recommendation. Try it and become very pleasantly surprised, as I was and continue to be. Karl Lozier