Christian McBride Throws Down

Chris M. Slawecki By

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AAJ: Four of these songs on the first set haven't appeared anywhere else yet—do you plan to record studio versions of these tunes?

CM: Probably not. We'll probably leave them like they are on the CD because that's how we'd probably do 'em. The way we recorded them live is how we would record them in the studio anyway, so we'll probably just leave them be.

AAJ: One of the most enjoyable things about this new record is not only that there's so much music on it, but that there's so much different music on it. It's a jazz record that has more than jazz on it. So you've got to wonder: You catching any hell for this record?

CM: I think after A Family Affair came out—which was, what, eight years ago—that I was put on the straight-ahead post office outlaw board. I think that ever since then, people don't even bother to mess with me about doing non-jazz things. I think I've been able to successfully establish myself as a musician who's rooted in jazz, but who doesn't live by the rules of 4/4 traditional swing rhythms. I like to broaden it out and do a lot of different things.

AAJ: Are you a good dancer?

CM: I don't know, I haven't done it in a long time. I used to be. I think up until the time... I don't know, maybe. I don't even know when the cutoff point was, but I used to go out dancing all the time, up until around seven, eight years ago.

AAJ: You have two additional responsibilities that I'd like to give you a chance to explain. What do you do as co-director of the Jazz Museum in Harlem?

CM: The Jazz Museum in Harlem is still a work in progress. It's a fun work in progress. I've found myself going to all these meetings with city councilmen and all these local politicians to try to get some ideas about getting a building and getting funding to open this museum officially. So part of my job is being a politician, which is interesting here in New York City (laughs). I'm hooking up with Mayor Bloomberg's cronies and things like that, sitting in these meetings going, 'I'm a bassist—what am I doing here?' But it's been fun.

Loren Schoenberg, who has been running the museum now for a couple of years, we actually work together at Jazz Aspen every summer, which is another program that I run. When he started working at the jazz museum, which he kind of inherited from Leonard Garment, the former White House lawyer... I guess he kind of figured, 'If we're going to build a museum in Harlem and we're going to get the support of the local neighborhood businesses, the citizens of Harlem, and musicians, they probably could use a little credibility.' So that's what brought me on board. I'm not sure how much credibility I brought them because I spend most of my time on the road. I'm like the co-Director-slash-world-ambassador for the Jazz Museum of Harlem, but it's been a whole lot of fun.

Christian McBride AAJ: And as Creative Chair for the Los Angeles Philharmonic?

CM: And the LA Philharmonic gig, my first season as creative chair actually starts this summer, in July. This gig is really a whole of fun because now I get to dream up my favorite program series; you know, like different kinds of projects, or people I could put together, or bands that I would like to see get out there and play in some nice venues, and make it happen. I think my crowning achievement, even this is only my first year, is that I actually got James Brown to agree to do Soul on Top live. This will be his first jazz concert ever.

I will finally get to do—Oh, it's also going to be a DVD, and so I will get to record a DVD and to play and conduct—I don't know how I'm going to do that yet, all at the same time—but I'm going to be working with Mister Brown on September sixth.

AAJ: You'll be bobbin' your head a lot, that's for sure.

CM: You got that right.

Selected Discography

Christian McBride, Live at Tonic (Ropeadope, 2006)
Corea/Gadd/McBride, Super Trio (Stretch/Universal Japan, 2006)
Christian McBride, Vertical Vision (Warner, 2003)
B.W.B., Groovin', (Warner Bros., 2002)
Brown/Clayton/McBride, Super Bass 2 (Telarc, 2001)
Caine/McBride/Thompson, The Philadelphia Experiment (Ropeadope, 2001)
Christian McBride, Sci-Fi (Verve, 2000)
Christian McBride, A Family Affair (Verve, 1998)
McBride/Payton/Whitfield, Fingerpainting: The Music of Herbie Hancock (Verve, 1997)
Brown/Clayton/McBride, Super Bass (Telarc, 1997)
McCoy Tyner, What the World Needs Now: The Music of Burt Bacharach (Verve, 1997)
Chick Corea & Friends, Remembering Bud Powell (Stretch, 1997)
Joe Henderson, Joe Henderson Big Band (Verve, 1996)
Original Soundtrack: Kansas City (Verve, 1996)
Cedar Walton, Composer (Astor Place, 1996)
Christian McBride, Number Two Express (Verve, 1995)
Scott/Hargrove/McBride, Parker's Mood (Verve, 1995)
Jimmy Smith, Damn! (Verve, 1995)
Joe Henderson, Double Rainbow: The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim (Verve, 1995)
Roy Haynes, Te Vou! (Dreyfus, 1994)
Christian McBride, Gettin' To It (Verve, 1994)

Photo Credits
Top Photo: John Abbott
Second Photo: Silvia Otte
Third Photo: Michael Kurgansky
Bottom Photo: Warner Jazz / Deborah Feingold

About Christian McBride
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