FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 01/07/05
York, NY (January 7, 2005) The Jazz Museum in Harlem (JMIH)
announced today that its Board of Directors has appointed
Christian McBride to assume the office of Co-Director. Mr.
McBride will work with Loren Schoenberg, the Museum's Executive
As Co-Director, Mr. McBride will bring his extensive
experience as a premier educator, producer and internationally
acclaimed bandleader/bassist to the Museum. Leonard Garment,
Chairman of the Board< of JMIH said, "it gives me great
pleasure to announce Christian McBride's appointment. His
tremendous career up until this point makes his coming aboard
all the more exciting. His energy and intelligence will help
us realize our dream as it continues to morph into a reality."
Loren Schoenberg adds: "Few musicians have as broad a
range of ability and talent as Christian does. Saying that
I am looking forward to working with Christian would be an
understatement. He's a true giant." Christian McBride
said, "I am honored to join this team. We're going to
make this museum happen in a way that does honor to the musicians
who created it, and we're going to do it right here in Harlem,
where it belongs."
The Jazz Museum in Harlem is a not-for-profit
arts organization dedicated to building a world-class jazz
museum in Harlem. They are currently presenting HARLEM SPEAKS
twice a month, an interview series saluting people who have
made a change in the world and who love jazz. Information
about this, about their new fundraising campaign and much
more background can be found at their website: www.jazzmuseuminharlem.org
CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE BIO
Christian McBride has arguably become the most
acclaimed acoustic and electric bassist to emerge from the
jazz world in the 1990's. While jazz lies at the root of Christian's
accomplishments, it is his passion for music in a very broad
sense that has made him an esteemed bassist, composer, arranger,
educator, and bandleader. His passion for musical diversity
has led him to work with everyone from Chick Corea to Pat
Metheny, from Kathleen Battle to D'Angelo, from Diana Krall
to Bruce Hornsby, from Quincy Jones to Sting. Given the bass
is the heart and soul of any style of music, this makes Christian
McBride's versatility that much more impressive.
Christian was born on May 31, 1972 in Philadelphia.
Having two working bassists in the family proved to be a major
influence on him. There was his father, Lee Smith, who played
bass for everyone from local Philly Soul superstars like the
Delfonics and Billy Paul, to Cuban conguero, Mongo Santamaria.
Then there was his great uncle, Howard Cooper, who played
bass with members of the jazz avant-garde, including Sun Ra
and Khan Jamal. Electric bass was Christian's first instrument,
which he began playing at age 9. Two years later, he took
on the acoustic bass. While intensely studying classical music,
Christian's interest and love for jazz also took flight. At
the age of 13, he began causing a buzz around the local Philly
jazz scene, sitting in with as many local musicians as possible.
The following year, at age 14, Christian would meet Wynton
Marsalis who would become a big brother figure and mentor
for McBride, outlining a variety of milestones he should strive
to achieve in order to enhance his clearly promising career.
Marsalis would put the word out on McBride to his fellow colleagues.
New York was waiting.
While attending Philadelphia's fertile High
School for the Creative and Performing Arts (C.A.P.A.), McBride
found himself in the company of other young talents such as
members of what would become the first recognized Hip-Hop
BAND - The Roots, vocalists Boyz II Men, organist Joey DeFrancesco,
vocalist/songwriter Amel Larrieux, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel,
and singer/songwriter Marc Nelson (now a member of Kenneth
"Babyface" Edmonds' camp). Upon graduating in 1989,
McBride was awarded a partial scholarship to attend the world-renowned
Juilliard School in New York City to study with the legendary
bassist, Homer Mensch. That summer, before making the move
to the Big Apple, McBride got his first taste of the touring
life going to Europe with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra,
and also touring the U.S. with the 80's fusion group, Free
Flight. He was now ready to tackle Juilliard and New York
Interestingly, McBride was already so good,
so versatile, and in-demand, that he never had a chance to
settle into his Juilliard studies. Within the first two weeks
of the semester, he joined Bobby Watson's band, Horizon. He
also started working around New York at clubs such as Bradley's
and the Village Gate with real hard-core New York stalwarts
as John Hicks, Kenny Barron, Larry Willis, and Gary Bartz.
After one year at Juilliard, McBride made a decision to leave
school and tour with trumpeter Roy Hargrove's first band,
electing "experience with as many musicians as possible"
as the best teacher. In August of 1990, he landed a coveted
position in legendary trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's band until
January of 1993. When Hubbard's band was on hiatus, McBride
also worked in one of the hottest bands of the early 90's,
The Benny Green Trio. McBride's star was quickly on the rise.
In 1991, the legendary bassist Ray Brown heard
McBride, and asked young Christian to join "SuperBass,"
a group Brown tailor made for Christian and John Clayton.
This truly solidified Christian's place in the jazz canon.
McBride would take full advantage of having Ray Brown as a
mentor/father-figure. McBride was also named Rolling Stone
magazine's "Hot Jazz Artist" of 1992. The next year,
he truly proved it as a member of guitarist Pat Metheny's
"Special Quartet" which included the late, great
drum master, Billy Higgins, and the then-up-and-coming saxophonist,
Joshua Redman. While recording and touring with Redman the
following year in his "Moodswing" band, McBride
was signed to Verve Records in the summer of 1994, recording
his first CD as a leader, "Gettin' To It" - one
of the biggest selling jazz records of 1995. The crown jewel
of the CD is Neal Hefti's "Splanky," which features
Christian in a three-way bass-off with his two father figures,
Ray Brown and Milt Hinton. The success of "Gettin' To
It" paved the way for Christian McBride to become a bandleader.
Kudos of other sorts were soon forthcoming.
Philadelphia's Mellon Jazz Festival of 1994 was dedicated
to McBride (along with Lee Morgan, posthumously). He also
received a commission from Jazz at Lincoln Center to compose
"Bluesin' In Alphabet City," performed by Wynton
Marsalis with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra featuring
McBride as special guest. He then toured and recorded in an
all-star band with another legend, pianist Chick Corea. In
turn, Corea was a special guest on McBride's 1996 sophomore
CD, "Number Two Express." The recording reunited
Corea with his former Miles Davis bandmate, drummer Jack DeJohnette.
It was the first time the two recorded together in over twenty
During this time, McBride achieved something
that meant more to him personally than any gig or recording
session -- he finally befriended his boyhood idol, James Brown
-- The Godfather of Soul. For over a year, Brown and McBride
talked about collaborating. Disappointingly, the collaboration
never happened due to contractual and legal issues. However,
McBride was able to co-produce a yet-to-be-reissued CD of
James Brown's jazz-tinged LP, "Soul on Top" (King
Records, 1969), which was recorded with Louis Bellson's Big
McBride's third Verve CD, the controversial
"A Family Affair" (1998), reflected his rediscovery
of music from his childhood. Produced by keyboardist and jazz-funk
fusion pioneer George Duke, the album found him recording
brilliant jazz arrangements of soul classics such as Stevie
Wonder's "Summer Soft," Earth, Wind & Fire's
"I'll Write A Song For You," Kool and The Gang's
"Open Sesame," The Spinners' "I'm Coming Home,"
and the Sly & The Family Stone smash, "Family Affair,"
from which the project gleaned its title. The CD also showcased
McBride's first attempts as a lyricist on two songs, "A
Dream of You" (sung by soul crooner Will Downing), and
the cold-blooded ".Or So You Thought" (sung by the
vivacious Vesta). This project challenged many of Christian's
staunch traditional jazz fans by his choice of material and
because he played electric bass on half of the ten selections.
The CD was released to mixed reviews from the jazz community,
but it introduced a new audience to McBride's artistry. Later
in 1998, the Portland (ME) Arts Society, and the National
Endowment for the Arts awarded McBride with a commission to
write "The Movement, Revisited," Christian's dramatic
musical portrait of the civil rights struggle of the 1960s.
Written for quartet and a 30-piece gospel choir, the project
challenged Christian more than any other up to that point.
Collaborating with J.D.Steele (of the renowned gospel family,
The Steeles), four very successful concerts were presented
late that year. McBride hopes to record the piece one day.
In 2000, McBride released his fourth and most
successful CD since his debut "Gettin To It" was
released in 1995. "SCI-FI" was released to rave
reviews in the fall of 2000. Produced by McBride, the CD was
in many ways a perfect blending of all the extremely diverse
ideas that McBride had hinted at combining in his two previous
CD's. Along with the wonderful Dianne Reeves, it was not ironic
that the legendary jazz maverick, Herbie Hancock, were special
guests on the CD.
In 2001, McBride took on two projects that took
him to even greater levels of musical diversity and popularity.
"The Philadelphia Experiment"; was a CD released
in the summer of '01, and was an instant success with the
younger college "jam band"; crowd. The CD reunited
Christian with his former high school running buddy, leader
of The Roots, drummer/producer Ahmir Thompson better known
to the Hip Hop and R&B world as "?uestlove."
The CD also featured the exciting pianist/keyboardist Uri
Caine, and the great Pat Martino on guitar.
Later that year, pop star Sting would invite
Christian to join his new band. McBride would now become one
of those rare artists from the jazz world to be a part of
the pop scene. It should have come as no surprise to anyone
that an artist with such a broad palette as Sting would summon
a talent like Christian. Christian would be a key figure in
Sting's 2001 CD/DVD, "All This Time."
In addition to all of his solo recordings, throughout
the last decade McBride has been featured on over 200 recordings
and has toured and/or recorded with artists such as David
Sanborn, George Duke, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Hutcherson, Chaka
Khan, Joe Henderson, Betty Carter, Abbey Lincoln, Milt Jackson,
Peabo Bryson, Ray Brown, Natalie Cole, George Benson, Benny
Golson, Johnny Griffin, and Issac Hayes. McBride has graced
the big screen playing his bass in director Robert Altman's
1940's period piece, "Kansas City" (1996), as well
as its two soundtracks.
Not content to only play music, McBride
continues to challenge himself in other arenas. As a speaker,
he participated on a panel for former President Clinton's
town hall meeting on "Racism in the Performing Arts."
Other speakers included such personalities as choreographer
Garth Fagan, and Star Trek's "Mr. Sulu," George
Takei. McBride was also a part of Stanford University's panel
on "Black Performing Arts in Mainstream America."
He also took the plunge into cyberspace by hosting a weekly
"jazz chat" series of one-on-one interviews for
Sonicnet.com. He has written the foreword for a book by pianist
Jonny King called, "What Jazz Is" (Walker &
Co., New York). For McBride, jazz education has always been
a prime concern. He does numerous workshops and clinics at
universities all over the country, and in 2000, McBride was
named artistic director of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer
Program, and in 2001, was named artistic director of the University
of Richmond's summer jazz program, as well as the Dave Brubeck
Institute at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA.