Six-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. 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.”
For his latest project, McBride turned to one of the city’s most beloved colloquialisms to christen Christian McBride’s New Jawn as the acclaimed bassist knows, when it comes to grit there’s no better resource to draw from than his own hometown, Philadelphia. On the band’s eponymous debut, these four stellar musicians ably walk the razor’s edge between thrilling virtuosity and gut-punch instinctiveness. The album was the debut release on Brother Mister Productions, McBride’s own imprint through his longtime label, Mack Avenue Records.
In 2007, Christian McBride put together the first all-acoustic unit he’d led since the late 1990s. That band, which eventually became known as Inside Straight, featured saxophonist Steve Wilson, vibist Warren Wolf, pianist Eric Reed, and drummer Carl Allen, with McBride himself on bass. Reed was eventually replaced by Peter Martin, but the rest of the lineup has remained intact. They released their debut, Kind of Brown, on Mack Avenue in 2009. Their long-awaited follow-up was recorded at the Village Vanguard in New York five years later and released just this year. This ensemble has been called “bop-tinged and richly melodic” with “playful hipster irony” and “a paradigm of unforced, unselfconscious virtuosity.”