Joe McBride--Lookin' For a Change

Huh? was a word that popped into my head when I first learned of this latest effort, Lookin’ For A Change, by veteran pianist/vocalist Joe McBride.  Wow! quickly replaced that one word when I heard this cool and innovative approach to pop tunes masquerading as strictly acoustic straight-ahead jazz. How magnificently clever... and, simply put, it works.

While McBride has always felt comfortable in the contemporary jazz arena, he shows here that he is equally as comfortable everywhere else, as he makes it clear that the difference between the genres is oftentimes just about interpretation and feel.  How else could he have dug this deeply into a tune, extracted its essence and definition, and translated it so effortlessly to fit into this mosaic metamorphosis?  Sometimes—oftentimes--music is more than just music.

 A really creative interpretation of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” kicks it all off at track one.  It’s followed a bit later by my fav here, an awesome bluesy/jazzy rendition of Cameo’s “Word Up.”  Now, I already really liked the cut in its original form.  Here, the transformation alone is just magnificent and clearly speaks to the genius of McBride.  Then, there is his take on Matchbox Twenty’s rocker “This is How a Heart Breaks,” as well as a memorable version of Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose.”  The latter is apparently handled with an eye toward preserving the poignant appeal of the original while expanding it.

Often reminding one of the styling of vocal maestro Al Jarreau, McBride puts such an impactful touch on this production, and it’s clear that his vision of where he wanted to take this project was unobstructed.  You have to feel encouraged by the lengths to which some artists will go to grow more, to learn more, to grasp more, and to share more.  Joe McBride, with the release of Lookin’ For A Change, dares to display his unrestrained love of music through a new and exciting prism, brought about by his driving desire to be even more to himself and his fans. How very inspiring! -- Ronald Jackson