It’s A Family Thing – CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE & M.E.E.
THE JAZZ IN M.E.E was tipped off about Christian McBride during the Martha’s Vineyard Jazz Festival in August of 2012 by the talented and emerging jazz force Christian Sands christiansandsjazz.com and began to follow him. We were ecstatic to hear that he was coming to Houston with his band Inside Straight to celebrate 25 years of music with Da Camera chamber of music and jazz. We quickly reached out to the McBride camp to request an interview and they graciously accepted.
On February 8, 2013 we set out to the Wortham Theater in Houston to meet the Grammy Award winning Bassist extraordinaire, composer, arranger, educator, curator and administrator. Christian McBride’s father, Lee Smith, and his great uncle, Howard Cooper, are also well known Philadelphia bassists who served as McBride’s early mentors. Christian McBride, has been one of the most important and most omnipresent figures in the jazz world for 20 years 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.
He invited us into his musical territory with open arms and allowed us to engage him and the band during rehearsal and sound check in their ambiance. We had fun with them and enjoyed our creative freedom. We positioned and repositioned our signage around him to get the perfect picture and he rolled with the punches. Even joked by asking “Do you carry that sign everywhere”? My answer was, yes…It’s our trademark, and he chuckled. As he read through the magazine, he asked “I’m I going to be in this magazine”? I said, yes you are. “Wow!!! It is awesome” he replied. “I love what you are doing for jazz.” I felt very proud and grateful by his compliment and confidence in M.E.E.
We experienced quite a bit about him hanging with him for the day. His personality was magnetic, he loved to laugh, his smile brightened the room and everyone enjoyed being in his presence. He is mega talented, but very humble. His view of jazz and how to attract new fans was eclectic and he adored the mystery of not knowing where jazz was headed in the future. He would rather bask in the moment. He also believed that a key element in being a successful bass player is taking on a supportive role. “We are the brick layers” and we have to support the entire band he implied. Meeting him was like family; he wanted to show us the life of jazz from his eyes. He gave us an up-close and personal view of high & heavy art verbally and musically. He revealed insight regarding his fascination with big band writers, arranging and scoop on his upcoming book. He shared great details with us, and vowed to have our back in jazz and at one point he had a M.E.E. t-shirt on his chest, a magazine in his hand all under the M.E.E. sign, taking photos vowing his support. It was hilarious. He has a great story to share and we cannot wait to share it with you in a future JAZZ IN M.E.E. issue. Our journey continues to get better.
After the interview he prepared for his performance with his fabulous band members; saxophonist Steve Wilson, vibraphonist Warren Wolf, pianist Peter Martin and drummer Carl Allen. These guys put on a dynamic show, and Christian got down to busy making the bass do things I had never witnessed. His performance was breath taking. I found myself holding my breath at times to endure the beauty of the it. They charmed us with “Theme for Kareem” (Freddie Hubbard),”Sophisticated Lady” (Duke Ellington),”Stick & Move” (McBride) and “Brother Mister (excerpt)” (McBride).
This talented Grammy Award winner was incredible! Christian, his management team, his band and the venue treated M.E.E. like “Royalty”. They were totally open, gracious and supportive. We appreciate and value what Christian McBride has and will continue to contribute to the jazz journey. Look for more about this charismatic artist from M.E.E. soon.
To get to know Christian McBride and to purchase his new CD visit:
Da Camera of Houston, founded in 1987, was created with the intention to produce a series of thematically programmed concerts designed to attract new listeners to the concert hall. By bringing together leading American and international musicians, specifically selected for each program, Da Camera concerts offer a broad range of repertoire and musical styles while ensuring a product of outstanding musical excellence.
Under the artistic leadership of Sarah Rothenberg since 1994, Da Camera maintains its commitment to this high caliber of musicianship brought together to perform in its Houston-based subscription series at the Wortham Theater Center and The Menil Collection; its extensive education and outreach activities; and its regional, national and international touring initiatives.