Bassist extraodinaire, composer, arranger, educator, curator and administrator, Christian McBride, has been one of the most important and most omnipresent figures in the jazz world for over 20 years.
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, he's 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, he's 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's 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, he's worked closely with opera legend Kathleen Battle, bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer, the Shanghai Quartet and the Sonus Quartet.
Away from the bass, Christian 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.
In 2009, Christian released his quintet CD "Christian McBride & Inside Straight" on the Detroit-based Mack Avenue Records. the CD was a return to his undiluted "straight-ahead" roots featuring alto/soprano saxophonist, Steve Wilson; vibraphonist, Warren Wolf; pianist, Eric Reed and drummer, Carl Allen.
His second release on the label was "Conversations with Christian" a recording of duets with McBride and some of his best friends and mentors - George Duke, Angelique Kidjo, Dr. Billy Taylor, Hank Jones, Chick Corea, Eddie Palmieri, Regina Carter, Ron Blake, Roy Hargrove and Russell Malone among many others.
In a stellar career that continues to showcase his remarkable talents as a consummate musician, bassist Christian reaches another milestone with the 2011 release of The Good Feeling, his first big band recording as a leader and newest release for Mack Avenue Records.
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 realizing 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.”
The repertoire on The Good Feeling features classic, “staple” tunes along with original McBride compositions—the perfect balance and platform on which to showcase the band. The selections range from easier, in-the-pocket swing—showcased on Broadway and I Should Care—to McBride's originals, many of which have been featured on the bassist's earlier recordings, now rearranged for big band. These tracks include: Brother Mister (the opening track of Kind of Brown); The Shade Of The Cedar Tree and In A Hurry (both featured on the 1995 classic Gettin’ to It); and Science Fiction (the nucleus for McBride’s 2000 effort Sci-Fi). Additionally the disc features tasteful renditions of When I Fall In Love, The More I See You and A Taste of Honey—all featuring exceptional performances by vocalist Melissa Walker.
Articles on Christian McBride
02/10/14 News By Jeff Tamarkin
08/11/13 Albums By Jeff Tamarkin
04/03/13 News By Jeff Tamarkin
11/08/12 Concerts By Philip Booth
09/09/12 In Person By Lee Mergner
04/02/12 News By Jeff Tamarkin
01/15/12 The Gig By Nate Chinen
12/30/11 Albums By Philip Booth
October 2011 Education By Laurel Gross
09/07/11 Albums By Thomas Conrad
09/05/11 On the Scene with MOJA By Russ Davis
08/04/11 News By Jeff Tamarkin
07/10/11 News By Jeff Tamarkin
07/07/11 News By Jeff Tamarkin
08/18/10 Before & After By Bill Milkowski
08/13/10 Concerts By Bill Milkowski
04/28/10 News By Lee Mergner
04/02/10 News By Lee Mergner
03/24/10 News By Lee Mergner
09/24/09 News By Lee Mergner
03/23/09 Concerts By Don Heckman
03/17/09 News By Jeff Tamarkin
01/14/09 Concerts By Bill Milkowski
January/February 2009 The Gig By Nate Chinen
January/February 2009 Critics Picks By JazzTimes
January/February 2009 Features By JazzTimes
December 2008 News By George Varga
10/29/08 Concerts By Evan Haga
09/25/08 Concerts By Thomas Conrad
09/09/08 Concerts By George Kanzler
03/31/08 Concerts By Philip Booth
March 2008 Albums By David R. Adler
October 2007 Features By Marc Hopkins
September 2007 News By Mark Guarino
June 2007 JT Notes By Evan Haga
05/02/07 Concerts By David French
May 2007 News By Willard Jenkins
April 2007 News By Evan Haga
March 2007 Farewells By Christian McBride
March 2007 Eighty-Eights By Thomas Conrad
02/26/07 Concerts By Doug Ramsey
08/11/06 Concerts By Josef Woodard
June 2006 Albums By Nate Chinen
June 2006 Albums By Nate Chinen
May 2006 News By Tad Hendrickson
04/07/06 Concerts By Bill Milkowski
November 2005 Fused By Ron Wynn
November 2005 Fused By Ron Wynn
07/08/03 Concerts By Josef Woodard
April 2003 JT Notes By Christopher Porter
April 2003 Features By Geoffrey Himes
March 2003 Features By Stuart Nicholson
April 2002 At Home By Russell Carlson
January/February 2002 Albums By Harvey Siders
12/07/01 Concerts By Bill Milkowski
07/09/01 Concerts By Willard Jenkins
July/August 2001 News By Michael J. Renner
05/18/01 Concerts By Bill Bennett
October 2000 Albums By John Murph
October 1998 Albums By Bill Milkowski
December 1997 Albums By Jim Ferguson
Events featuring Christian McBride
- Freddie Hubbard and Friends
- Hancock, McBride and Redman at the Hollywood Bowl
- Ropeadope Records Presents What Is Jazz?
- Julian Priester Benefit
- Montreal International Jazz Festival 2001
- "Made In America": An All-Star Jazz Benefit
- Jazz A Vienne 2003
- XXVIII Estoril Jazz/Jazz On A Summer Day/2009
- Pat Metheny Trio in Tampa
- "Conversations With Christian" Featuring Christian McBride & Chick Corea
- Detroit International Jazz Festival
- Tudo É Jazz Festival
- Duke Ellington Jazz Festival
- JazzBoston's Jazz Week '09
- Corea/McLaughlin Five Peace Band at Royce Hall, UCLA
- Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Festival
- New Mexico Jazz Festival
- TD Victoria International Jazzfest
- TD Canada Trust Vancouver International Jazz Festival
- TD Canada Trust Atlantic Jazz Festival, Halifax
- Montreux Jazz Festival
- KU Jazz Festival
- Caramoor 2011 Jazz Festival
- Newport Jazz Festival Presented by Natixis Global Asset Management
- Monterey Jazz Festival
- Exit O International Jazz Festival
- Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival
- Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour 55th Anniversary Celebration
- 14th Funchal Jazz Festival
- 10TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION: Herbie Hancock, Christian McBride, Dianne Reeves
- 2014 U.S. Bank Portland Jazz Festival Presented By Alaska Airlines
- Inside the Jazz Note - 7th Annual Benefit for Jazz House Kids
- Montclair Jazz Festival
- The Jazz Cruise 2015
- Get On Up: A James Brown Celebration
- Christian McBride Trio
- 3RD Annual Rockport Jazz Festival
- Miles Davis/ Gil Evans : Still Ahead