A longtime stalwart of the contemporary jazz scene, Joe McBride takes a detour from his usual path for an intriguing new recording that reinterprets a dozen contemporary pop songs via straightahead jazz arrangements. Fleshed out with the help of a live trio – guitarist Dan Wilson, bassist Roger Hines and drummer Elijah Gilmore, Lookin’ For A Change is a collection of songs originally written and recorded by a range of pop luminaries, including Gnarls Barkley, Coldplay, John Mayer, Seal and several others. These reinterpretations, along with three original compositions from McBride’s own inspirational well, make for an engaging juxtaposition of the best elements of contemporary pop and traditional jazz.
“The majority of my releases in the past have been primarily electronic,” says McBride, “with an acoustic piano playing over the top of arrangements that were primarily put together with drum machines and other technology. I’ve loved contemporary jazz. It’s been a lot of fun playing that kind of music. But I wanted to move forward a little bit, demonstrate a little growth, try something new.”
More than just pure musical entertainment, McBride sees Lookin’ for a Change as a learning experience for listeners from different generations – himself included. As is so often the case, creating something new required a reacquaintance with the old stuff. “As the project came together, the process became very educational – for me as much as anyone else who heard some of the early tracks,” says McBride. “I had forgotten some of the jazz roots of my youth, the straightahead stuff that I had learned back in high school and college – the Miles and the Coltrane and the Charlie Parker. So this project kind of took me back a little bit too. I had to really do my homework on some of the theory in this music.”
But McBride has no reservations about digging in and doing the hard work for the sake of his craft. “I wouldn’t trade now for any of the other years of my life,” he says. “I feel very good about this record. I feel like I’m in a fresh spot. I’m ready to broaden my horizons, and maybe broaden the horizons of some of my listeners as well. It’s all about the love for the music, and the willingness to try something new. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m trying something new every day.”