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Christian McBride on Mentoring, Big Bands and Miles on TV

Video interview with the bassist/bandleader from the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival

Christian McBride, backstage at the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival

During the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival, JazzTimes set up a make-shift video production studio backstage inside the old barracks of Fort Adams. During two afternoons, a succession of artists-including Joe Lovano, Jack DeJohnette, Jason Moran, Linda Oh, Theo Bleckmann, Donny McCaslin and several others-came in to talk about the festival, jazz education and their own projects. We will be posting these interviews at over the next few months. You can also see more of these video interviews from the Newport Jazz Festival (in 2011 and 2012), as well as from the Jazz Cruise, at the JazzTimes YouTube channel.

In this interview from the Newport Jazz Festival, bassist Christian McBride talks about his own musical education and development, going back to his early years at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia. McBride recalls how his father, bassist Lee Smith, inspired and influenced him in his path in music. McBride also tells the story of a morning TV show on which Miles Davis appeared as a guest, with a young McBride and Joey DeFrancesco performing as a house band for a succession of student trumpeters whom Davis was asked to critique, with perhaps not unsurprising results. The host Bill Boggs has posted that show on his own Youtube site.

Leader of his own big band, as well as a smaller group, Insight Straight, McBride shares the story of how Wynton Marsalis pushed him to write music for a large ensemble, leading the way to the creation of his big band. As someone who has performed with James Brown, Sting, Queen Latifah and Bruce Hornsby, McBride explains why he thinks it’s important for jazz musicians to play all types of music. And McBride talks about the importance of giving back to the community through appearances at schools and clinics for young musicians.

Christian McBride on his first musical instrument, first paid gig, own jazz and music education, on the influence of his father Lee Smith, also a bassist:

Christian McBride on the creation and evolution of his big band, and his smaller group, Inside Straight:

Click here for video interview with Christian McBride on playing different styles of music and on the importance of giving back to the community.

Video by Melissa Mergner. Audio by Jen Kim.

Originally Published