Bass sensation Christian McBride has followed his well-received debut album, "Gettin' to It," with a surprisingly modern album that shows him moving ahead in taste and ambition. While the first album focused on soulful sounds and its leader's gutbucket pluck, the new disc plunges hard ahead with smarts, sizzle and fine interplay between celebrity players including pianists Chick Corea and Kenny Barron, saxophonists Gary Bartz and Kenny Garrett, vibist Steve Nelson and drummer Jack DeJohnette (playing with Corea for the first time since their Miles Davis days).
Not only has McBride's material become more sophisticated, his improvisations have also progressed a notch. They're not so reliant on riffs and repetition. Bartz and Garrett make decidedly heated contributions and the album gives a rare chance to hear keyboardist Barron, as well as Corea, playing electric instruments. There's a particularly warm, rhythmic version of Freddie Hubbard's "Little Sunflower" on which the bassist's bowed acoustic theme and electric bass solo spin against Mino Cinelu's percussive patter. Credit McBride with not resting on his laurels after his first, successful recording. "Number Two Express" is a ride worth catching.