Christian McBride Big Band Follows Up
GRAMMY® Award-Winning Debut with
Sophomore Release, Bringin’ It
Available September 22 on Mack Avenue Records
Iconic bassist Christian McBride has been doing what the title of his upcoming big band album implores for years: Bringin’ It. This highly anticipated release, which follows the Christian McBride Big Band’s 2011 Grammy® Award-winning debut, The Good Feeling, puts his status and skills as an all-around entertainer on full display. With a list of growing accolades including his recent appointment as Artistic Director at the Newport Jazz Festival, hosting shows on SiriusXM (“The Lowdown: Conversations with Christian”) and NPR (“Jazz Night in America,” as well as frequent online contributions to various programs including “All Things Considered”), speaking engagements, and occasional DJ performances under the alias DJ Brother Mister, he’s more than just a bandleader: Christian McBride is transcending that title to something more complete.
If it is true that jazz is a sponge for musicians to absorb and then squeeze out what they hear to produce their own sound, McBride has been “bringin’ it” for quite a long time. From his amazing quintet, Inside Straight, to his avant-garde leaning quartet, New Jawn, the contemporary sound of his fusion group, A Christian McBride Situation, to the critically acclaimed music he’s made with his trio, the bassist has always disseminated his own unique 360-degree view of jazz.
While the music played by the Christian McBride Big Band is on the cutting edge of 21st century large ensemble music, the orchestra’s presentation, like its sound, respects the past while looking forward. Danny Ray, the legendary stage announcer for James Brown, travels with the group to give the leader an old-school intro before playing his thoroughly modern music. “I love having the show aspect of it as well, with Danny Ray there, and being able to create somewhat of a show while also having Melissa there as our vocalist,” says McBride.
That would be Melissa Walker, who graces Bringin’ It on two tracks: “Upside Down,” originally done by Brazilian superstar Djavan, and the unlikely slick arrangement of “Mr. Bojangles.” In addition to maintaining a career in jazz, Walker is also the co-founder of Jazz House Kids, the award winning jazz education center… and she’s Mrs. Christian McBride.
Only two tracks on this 11-song set were not arranged by the leader: the “Upside Down” arrangement was contributed by Norman Simmons, while “Optimism” is from the person he’s known the longest in his band, trombonist Steve Davis. Davis has the distinction of being the very last Jazz Messenger that Art Blakey hired before he died in 1990.
“I saw that last Jazz Messengers band that Steve was in,” McBride remembers. “Blakey was a huge influence on me and because of that, Steve and I share the same compositional and arranging DNA. You see, even though I’ve been influenced by every great big band and every great arranger I’ve ever heard, three of my greatest influences — not just as composers but also as improvisers — are Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter and Cedar Walton. I mean before, after and during the period when they were with Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers.”
McBride played bass for Freddie Hubbard’s quintet for nearly three years starting when he was 18. One of the songs he loved to play with the legendary trumpeter was “Thermo.” A few years ago he brought this arrangement to a gig with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. When the four trumpeters had to work hard to go over the riffs in the tune, McBride felt a certain pride. “I just thought that Freddie was somewhere up in heaven laughing,” says McBride.
Planning to keep this group simmering while he simultaneously resurrects his Inside Straight band and introduces his new trio, Tip City, McBride is most excited to embrace the golden age of big bands while they continue bringin’ it with more gigs and their first European tour. “With my big band I try to combine all of my journeys and goals as a musician and then try to put it in a wrapper of show business,” the five-time Grammy® Award-winner comments. “I really think in that sense I’m following something of a big band tradition.”
Christian McBride Big Band · Bringin’ It
Mack Avenue Records · Release Date: September 22, 2017
For more information on Christian McBride, please visit: ChristianMcBride.com