Totally Texas

On his first four recordings, pianist Joe McBride seemed to prefer the company of genre all-stars. However, with Texas Rhythm Club, he finally commits the powerful ensemble action of his usual cohorts to disc, and in the process proves that he's a true melodic genius whose lighthearted ivory and synth touch sum up all the joyous and groove-oriented charms of smooth jazz.

The title track (RealAudio excerpt) is typical overjoyed McBride. Sporting a playful, bouncy rhythm and loose, jumpy piano melody, it also includes splashes of live horns (by trumpeter Rodney Booth and trombonist Greg Waits), as well as the occasional crackling guitar lick (Todd Parsnow) and sax line (Wayne DeLano). Other tunes, such as "White Rock" (RealAudio excerpt), perfectly combine McBride's sense of graceful balladry with a simmering groove that eventually explodes into harder edged funk. "Texas Twister" (RealAudio excerpt) promises and delivers a piano line that swings, sways and bounces along over a darker-toned synth line, like a growing storm dancing above ominous clouds.

"Everything Remains the Same" is more typical of McBride's romantic vocal style, very much in line with the smooth harmonies of Take 6. McBride has always shined with more accomplished ensembles, but bringing it all home loosens him up to create his best overall recording to date.