His solo introduction, shapeless but soulful, eventually led to a major blues in sauntering tempo, and the rest of his quintet fell neatly into step.
He calls this band Inside Straight, applying the phrase as a badge of intent and maybe a deflective maneuver: He'll brand this music as conventional before you ever have the chance. What that says about Mr. McBride is that he has his principles but sees the bigger picture, and that he understands how a project like this could be misconstrued. Inside Straight made its debut at the Village Vanguard five years ago under a different name; the group has since appeared there every year and has made a studio album, Kind of Brown" (Mack Avenue).
In the past few months Mr. McBride, 39, has released two more sure-footed albums on the same label: The Good Feeling," a big-band showcase, and Conversations With Christian," a parade of duets. Both come across as the products of an inquisitive mind and some earned good will. By comparison Inside Straight feels truly lived in, probably because its style reflects Mr. McBride's formative interests, those that he once expressed as an onrushing prodigy.