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Four-time GRAMMY®-winning jazz bassist Christian McBride can be likened to a force of nature, fusing the fire and fury of a virtuoso with the depth and grounding of a seasoned journeyman. Powered by a relentless energy and a boundless love of swing, McBride’s path has described a continuous positive arc since his arrival on the scene. With a career now blazing into its third decade, the Philadelphia native has become one of the most requested, most recorded, and most respected figures in the music world today.
Raised in a city steeped in soul, McBride moved to New York in 1989 to pursue classical studies at the Juilliard School. There he was promptly recruited to the road by saxophonist Bobby Watson. Call it a change in curriculum: a decade’s worth of study through hundreds of recording sessions and countless gigs with an ever-expanding circle of musicians. He was finding his voice, and others were learning to listen for it.
In 2000 the lessons of the road came together in the formation of what would become his longest-running project, the Christian McBride Band. Praised by writer Alan Leeds as "one of the most intoxicating, least predictable bands on the scene today," the CMB—saxophonist Ron Blake, keyboardist Geoffrey Keezer, and drummer Terreon Gully—have been collectively evolving McBride's all-inclusive, forward-thinking outlook on music through their incendiary live shows, as chronicled on 2006’s Live at Tonic. Part excursion, part education, the CMB is a vehicle built on a framework of experience and powered by unfettered creativity: a mesmerizing dance on the edge of an electro-acoustic fault line.
In 2009 McBride began focusing this same energy through a more traditional lens with the debut of his critically-acclaimed Inside Straight quintet, and again with the Christian McBride Big Band, whose 2012 release The Good Feeling won the GRAMMY for Best Large Ensemble Jazz Album. As his career entered its third decade, McBride added the role of mentor, tapping rising stars pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. for the Christian McBride Trio’s GRAMMY-nominated album Out Here.
He is also a respected educator and advocate, first noted in 1997 when he spoke on former President Bill Clinton's town hall meeting "Racism in the Performing Arts." He has since been named Artistic Director of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Sessions (2000), co-director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem (2005), and the Second Creative Chair for Jazz of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (2005).
In 1998 he combined roles, composing "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, and performed throughout New England in the fall of 1998 with McBride's quartet and a 30-piece gospel choir. For its tenth anniversary, "The Movement, Revisited" was expanded, rewritten, and revamped to feature an 18-piece big band and four actors/speakers in addition to the gospel choir. It was performed in Los Angeles at Walt Disney Concert Hall, and praised by the Los Angeles Times as "a work that was admirable—to paraphrase Dr. King—for both the content of its music and the character of its message."
Currently he hosts and produces “The Lowdown: Conversations With Christian” on SiriusXM satellite radio and National Public Radio’s “Jazz Night in America,” a weekly radio show and multimedia collaboration between WBGO, NPR and Jazz at Lincoln Center, showcasing outstanding live jazz from across the country. With his staggering body of work, McBride is the ideal host, drawing on history, experience, and a gift for storytelling to bridge the gap between artist, music, and audience. He brings that same breadth of experience to bear as Artistic Advisor for Jazz Programming at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC).
Completing the circle is his work with Jazz House Kids, the nationally recognized community arts organization founded by his wife, vocalist Melissa Walker. Exclusively dedicated to educating children through jazz, the “Jazz House” concept brings internationally renowned jazz performers to teach alongside a professional staff, offering students a wide range of creative programming that develops musical potential, enhances leadership skills, and strengthens academic performance. This shared celebration of America’s original musical art form cultivates tomorrow’s community leaders and global citizens while preserving its rich legacy for future generations.
Whether behind the bass or away from it, Christian McBride is always of the music. From jazz (Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins, J.J. Johnson, Ray Brown, Milt Jackson, McCoy Tyner, Roy Haynes, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, to R&B (Isaac Hayes, Chaka Khan, Natalie Cole, Lalah Hathaway, and the one and only Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown) to pop/rock (Sting, Paul McCartney, Carly Simon, Don Henley, Bruce Hornsby) to hip-hop/neo-soul (The Roots, D'Angelo, Queen Latifah) to classical (Kathleen Battle, Edgar Meyer, Shanghai Quartet, Sonus Quartet), he is a luminary with one hand ever reaching for new heights, and the other extended in fellowship—and perhaps the hint of a challenge—inviting us to join him.
Christian McBride Assets Page (Mack Avenue)
No Time to Waste: Conversations with Bassists Christian McBride and Edgar Meyer — February 3, 2017, Cornell Daily Sun
"Although both musicians helm their respective vessels in nominally different streams, together they have created something as fresh as their foundations are solid. Where McBride is something of a musical chameleon, rooted in the backyard of the blues yet stretching his branches over into every willing neighbor’s property, Meyer has turned his classical wheelhouse into a kaleidoscope of interpretive possibilities."
Newport Jazz Festival Gets New Vision with Christian McBride – July 24, 2016, Billboard
McBride was a great pick because he is involved in every aspect of the music, Wein said. He has a lengthy resume including five Grammys, and has been involved in small bands, big bands and everything in between. His numerous other projects include hosting NPR's Jazz Night in America.
Grammy-winning bassist Christian McBride talks about plans for Newport Jazz Festival – July, 22, 2016, Providence Journal
Although McBride, like Wein, is a jazz guy through-and-through, he said he remembers watching a memorable set by the rapper Mos Def performing with a New Orleans brass band at Newport, and said he could foresee more hip-hop/jazz collaborations at future festivals.
Christian McBride & Chick Corea are "Thrilling"– July 11, 2016, Financial Times
“The two musicians have a long collaborative history, which they celebrated with tight themes, copious variations and dazzling flights of fancy.”
"It seems to me that over the last 15 to 20 years, there has been an onslaught of these great musicians from Houston on the jazz scene.”
Busy performer Christian McBride is about to become ubiquitous– May 13, 2016, The Boston Globe
“For local jazz buffs, this is the summer of Christian McBride.”
"Christian McBride made his first appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1991, as the bassist in Jazz Futures, a youthful hard-bop wrecking crew. He was 19 then and has returned to the Newport stage many times since. Now, in a significant move, he is poised to become the festival’s new artistic director, taking the reins from the impresario George Wein."
Mack Avenue SuperBand wows at Berklee - February 8, 2016
"The Mack Avenue SuperBand came to Berklee Performance Center Thursday night, courtesy of Celebrity Series of Boston, and put on a show that wowed the audience with cordial excellence rather than an old-fashioned cutting contest"
Christian McBride's 'The Movement Revisited' - February 8, 2016
"Jazz Night In America's regular host, Christian McBride, happens to be a Grammy-winning bassist and composer, but he forbade us to feature him unless it was for something special. It so happens that he's written a special work: Teaming with choral director JD Steele, he's composed a bluesy and soulful oratorio for big band, gospel choir with soloists, and four speakers who represent great figures of the Civil Rights Movement. It's called The Movement Revisited, and is inspired by the written words and speeches of Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King Jr., and President Barack Obama. "
"One of this summer’s Confederation Park headliners at the TD Ottawa International Jazz Festival will be piano star Chick Corea with his trio that includes bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade."
"New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) has announced the appointment of three extraordinary voices and game-changing innovators as Artistic Advisers award-winning tap dancer and choreographer SAVION GLOVER, America’s preeminent jazz bassist, CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE, and nationally acclaimed poet PATRICIA SMITH."
McBride's Knockout Jazz Oratorio in Philly - December 4, 2015
"Christian McBride's The Movement Revisited, had one knockout performance at the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia Nov. 21. It's an ambitious jazz oratorio- symphonia inspired by the lives of four iconic figures of the black civil rights movement."
How One of the World’s Most Recorded Musicians Prepared an Ambitious Work - November 25, 2015
"Mr. Christian McBride, a Grammy Award-winning jazz bassist and a man widely considered to be the most recorded musician of his generation, is the type of individual who fits into humanity’s first class: he’s continuously outdoing himself, tackling one elaborate groove after another."
...Christian McBride, virtuoso jazz bassist and four-time GRAMMY Award winner, composed an original song performed by his trio (Christian Sands on piano and Jerome Jennings on drums), to serve as the backdrop of the educational videos....
"This past Friday, Emory University’s Flora Glenn Candler Concert Series presented an engaging duo recital by esteemed acoustic bassists Edgar Meyer and Christian McBride at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. The event drew a packed house."
It's all about that bass. Well, two basses, actually - October 22, 2015
"Grammy Award-winner Christian McBride is a bass player who is firmly rooted in jazz and funk. He went to high school in Philadelphia with drummer Questlove from The Roots. How’s that for funk credibility? Composer Edgar Meyer is a virtuosic bass player from Oak Ridge, Tenn., who is just as comfortable playing Bach as he is playing bluegrass. They are, without a doubt, two of the best bassists in the biz.."
Why Everyone Wants To Record 'Live At The Village Vanguard' - October 22, 2015
"When it comes to live jazz, there are sacred places: Preservation Hall in New Orleans, Baker's Keyboard Lounge in Detroit, Ronnie Scott's in London. These are legendary venues for artists and fans. But nothing is quite like a certain triangular basement in New York City: The Village Vanguard."
Edgar Meyer tours coast-to-coast with Christian McBride - October 7, 2015
"This month, Edgar Meyer hits the road again for a coast-to-coast concert tour with fellow bassist Christian McBride. The pair begins its journey on October 18 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts in Edmonds, WA. Four days later on October 22, they arrive in the nation’s capital for one night at Sixth & I, with a stop at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra October 23. On October 24, Edgar and Christian take on the Opperman Music Hall in Tallahasse, FL before heading to Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA on October 27. They close out the tour October 30 at Atlanta’s Emory University."
'Jazz Night in America' Season Two Begins Sept. 24; Schedule Available Now - September 17, 2015
"The program setting a new jazz standard returns next week with a fresh schedule of shows about the most dynamic people and events in jazz today. Jazz Night in America Season Two premieres on September 24 with new radio and video episodes available Thursdays at npr.org/jazznight and from public radio stations around the country."
Christian McBride Trio Make Wigmore Hall Swing - June 8, 2015
"...But it was the virtuosity with which they played that really stood out. Signet ring glinting, his fingers quick-stepping over the strings, McBride’s phrases were both technically astonishing and effortlessly melodic, punctuated by bluesy bass grooves and low end tugs that brought you down to earth with a bump..."
Christian McBride Trio, Wigmore Hall, London - review - June 8, 2015
"It was a magical gig, and even the well-travelled McBride seemed somewhat taken aback."
Christian McBride Trio, Wigmore Hall, London - review - June 5, 2015
"After the gig one concertgoer said, 'I've been listening to jazz for seventy five years, and that's the best trio I've heard in my life.' Another quipped, 'there are nine bass players in the loo..." here, doubtless, to pick up tips from the master... Is it too soon to nominate a gig of the year?"
A review of a performance by The Christian McBride Trio at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge: "While they are as technically impressive as any group performing today, what really defines McBride’s trio is its tenacious placement of pure, accessible love and joy in a genre that is often gleefully esoteric."
NPR: Christian McBride on 'A Love Supreme' And Its Decendants- February 18, 2015
"Christian McBride remembers very well the first time he heard A Love Supreme, the John Coltrane classic that turns 50 this month..."
LA Times: Grammys 2015: Jazz sticks to the familiar as Chick Corea wins two - February 8, 2015
Chick Corea's set "Trilogy," which featured Christian McBride, won the 2015 Grammy award for Jazz Instrumental Album.
NPR - 'Everything Is Cyclical': Christian McBride Looks At 2015 In Jazz - January 14, 2015
"McBride recently sat down with NPR's Audie Cornish to discuss what he's excited about in jazz this year."
"The bassist and bandleader thrives in his role as an ambassador for jazz."
Detroit Free Press: Christian McBride: Tackling Two Sides of Jazz at Once - September 5, 2014
"The group’s ferocious, yet relaxed intensity defined the concept of in-the-pocket, and the way McBride and Owens felt the beat in tandem should be a model for all bass-and-drum teams in jazz, no matter the style.”
"The three men were genuinely having fun, testing the limits of each other's musical mettle in ways that challenge their own individual creativity, and thoroughly enjoying themselves in the process.”
NYT: Christian McBride Big Band - Jan 2, 2014
"This spit-and-polish outfit, which won a recent Grammy for best large jazz ensemble album, thrives on the robust energies of its namesake bassist-bandleader. “
NPR: Christian McBride: Tackling Two Sides of Jazz at Once - December 10, 2011
"“...one of the most prolific performers in jazz.”"
NPR: Christian McBride And Inside Straight - November 11, 2011
“The arrival of Inside Straight was a somewhat unexpected turn. But McBride has always kept one firmly planted foot in playing that which is unmistakably jazz, and doing so with the best of them.”
MLive: Detroit Jazz Festival - September 05, 2011
"Christian McBride's Inside Straight was swinging like no other. Playing a combination of standards and originals, these musicians celebrated a muscular, nearly athletic intensity.”
"The McBride big band was a hit with the Caramoor audience and it was good to see that competent big bands still have their appeal to astute audiences.”
Live at the Village Vanguard