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Christian McBride

Christian McBride

Christian McBride Trio
@ the Love Supreme Jazz Festival
6 July 2014

Click an image to enlarge.

Biography

Bassist extraordinaire, composer, arranger, educator, curator and administrator, Christian McBride, has been one of the most important and most omnipresent figures in the jazz world for 20 years. Sometimes its hard to believe considering this man is not yet 40.

Beginning in 1989, this Philadelphia-born bassist moved to New York City to further his classical studies at the Juilliard School, only to be snatched up by alto saxophonist, Bobby Watson. Since then, McBride’s list of accomplishments have been nothing short of staggering. As a sideman in the jazz world alone, McBride has worked with the best of the very best - Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins, J.J. Johnson, Ray Brown, Milt Jackson, McCoy Tyner, Roy Haynes, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny. In the R&B world, McBride has not only played with, but also arranged for Isaac Hayes, Chaka Khan, Natalie Cole, Lalah Hathaway, and the one and only Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown. In the pop/rock world, he has extensively collaborated with Sting, Carly Simon, Don Henley, and Bruce Hornsby. In the hip-hop/neo-soul world, he's collaborated with the Roots, D’Angelo, and Queen Latifah. In many other specialty projects, McBride has worked closely with opera legend Kathleen Battle, bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer, the Shanghai Quartet and the Sonus Quartet.

Away from the bass, McBride has become quite an astute and respected spokesperson for the music. In 1997, he spoke on former President Bill Clinton’s town hall meeting “Racism in the Performing Arts”. In 2000, he was named Artistic Director of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Sessions. In 2005, he was officially named the co-director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Also in 2005, he was named the second Creative Chair for Jazz of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association.

In 1998, McBride composed, “The Movement, Revisited,” a four-movement suite dedicated to four of the major figures of the civil rights movement - Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The piece was commissioned by the Portland (ME) Arts Society and the National Endowment for the Arts. The piece was performed throughout the New England states in the fall of 1998 with McBride’s quartet and a 30-piece gospel choir led by J.D. Steele.

Ten years later in 2008, “The Movement, Revisited” was expanded, re-written, re-vamped and performed again in Los Angeles at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The updated version now featured the gospel choir, an 18-piece big-band and four actors/speakers. The Los Angeles Times claimed the “Movement” as, “a work that was admirable - to paraphrase Dr. King - for both the content of its music and the character of its message.”

Since 2000, McBride has blazed a trail as a bandleader with the Christian McBride Band. McBride’s fellow bandmates - saxophonist Ron Blake, keyboardist Geoffrey Keezer and drummer Terreon Gully - have sympathetically shared McBride’s all-inclusive, forward-thinking outlook on music. Releasing two CD’s – 2002’s “Vertical Vision,” and 2006’s “Live at Tonic,” writer Alan Leeds called McBride’s band (affectionately known as the “CMB”) “one of the most intoxicating, least predictable bands on the scene today.” It is a group that has mesmerizingly walked an electro-acoustic fault line with amazing results.

For over 20 years, McBride has appeared in numerous musical settings with just about any musician imaginable in the jazz as well as R&B and pop worlds. From playing with the likes of Milt Jackson, Roy Haynes, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny; to playing with and/or arranging for the likes of Isaac Hayes, Chaka Khan, Lalah Hathaway, Sting and the legendary James Brown - what has always been unique about McBride is his versatility.
In addition to his work in the neo-soul arena with The Roots, D’Angelo, Queen Latifah and others, the Philadelphia native has also led his own ensembles: The Christian McBride Band, A Christian McBride Situation and his most recent group, Inside Straight (fresh off their critically acclaimed 2009 effort, Kind of Brown). There are many sides to the musical persona of Christian McBride, and The Good Feeling has him realising another one: as the leader, arranger and conductor of his big band.

McBride’s first foray into the world of big band composing and arranging dates back to 1995, when he was commissioned by Jazz At Lincoln Center to write Bluesin' in Alphabet City, featured on The Good Feeling and originally debuted by Wynton Marsalis & The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra. Since that time he has composed a number of pieces for larger ensembles including The Movement Revisited, a four movement suite dedicated to four of the major figures of the civil rights movement: Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. At McBride’s core is “The Good Feeling,” his first full-fledged big band recording, and it’s presented in a truly impressive fashion.

A hallmark of this recording is its consistent energy, present from the opening track “Shake ‘n Blake.” With its powerful trumpet section pronouncement, the band is telling the listener, “Here we are, ready to have some fun, and we’re taking you along for the ride.” But just as important is the band’s understanding of nuance; it’s McBride’s arranging touch bringing out the best in its members, helping to create the tightly knit sound you hear throughout this recording.

Putting a big band together is no easy task, but in this particular band McBride feels fortunate to work with some of the most talented musicians in the jazz world. For his part, McBride feels that this process turned out the way he had hoped, with many musicians involved with whose work he is particularly familiar.

“Trumpeter Freddie Hendrix is one of the flagship guys in the big band, as is Frank Greene, along with trombonists Michael Dease and Steve Davis. (Steve and I go way back. He was one of my first calls). And the saxophone section was kind of a no brainer - Steve Wilson and Ron Blake, who have been the saxophonists in my last two working bands. I had to have those guys,” McBride says. “Now, one thing that seems to be my ‘Achilles heel’ with any band that I’ve had during my career is the piano chair, simply because everyone’s working all the time. But the X-Man, Xavier Davis, came in and did such a fantastic job.”

Christian McBride

Christian McBride

Christian McBride

Christian Sands

Christian Sands

Christian Sands


Recommended
Listening

“Live At The Village Vanguard” is not only stunning musically,
Mack Avenue have succeeded in capturing the essence of Christian McBride Trio for vinyl lovers.
A superb quality recording, exceptional pressing quality, presented in a stunning gatefold cover.
All of this at a relatively affordable price of £25.
Most music lovers are happy to pay this and dare I say it a little more for quality.
Don Was at Blue Note Records please Take Note)!

Christian McBride Trio - Love At The Village Vanguard Conversations Getting To It
Kind Of Brown Live At Tonic Number Two Express Christian McBride Trio - Out Here
People Music Sci -Fi Christian McBride Big Band - The Good Feeling Vertical Vision

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