Bassist McBride stresses attitude for jazz hopefuls
Bassist Christian McBride has performed with jazz-piano great McCoy Tyner and singer-actress Queen Latifah, but he tries to provide something other than versatility.
“I tell any young bassist I meet, the most important thing they can be is dependable,” he says.
McBride, who also is an arranger and composer, will show one aspect of his dependability April 22 at the Cabaret at Theater Square, Downtown, where he will appear with his trio.
The concert is part of the Jazz Appreciation Month series sponsored by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Janis Burley Wilson, a vice president of the trust who puts together the jazz events, says she invited McBride because he takes his music in so many different directions, yet follows directly from the legacy of bass players such as Paul Chambers or Pittsburgh native Ray Brown.
His visits have shown that talent many times. He has appeared in a trio led by guitarist Pat Metheny, in a small group doing a tribute to bassist Brown, and with the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra, as well as groups of his own.
Earlier this year, he released albums featuring the trio appearing here — with pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. — as well as his quintet, Inside Straight.
“No matter what you are doing, the most important thing is to play the best you can behind whoever is out there soloing,” he says.
The Grammy award-winner says that attitude is the key to the success of all the great sidemen. He believes focusing on such will result in “a bassist having to turn down jobs just because he has too much work.”
It certainly appears to keep McBride busy. Along with his performing, the Philadelphia native also does a great deal of arranging and composing for groups ranging from the trio to his big band. Currently, he is working on putting together his next album, a big-band version of his work “The Movement Revisited,” a four-movement suite dedicated to four of the major figures of the civil rights movement — Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was commissioned by an arts group in Portland, Maine, in 1998 for a jazz quartet, he says, but he believed it could be better presented in a larger setting, so he kept working at it.
He hopes the album will be released in January or February of 2015.
He keeps his mind open for projects such as this one. And while he wants to stay open to new directions, he says he sees nothing wrong with nestling close to tradition. Art Blakey, for instance, had a sound that never changed, but his band and leadership produced a world of excellent players, he says.
“I'm at the midpoint of my career, I think,” he says. “God willing, I will have another 25 years, so there will be a lot of music to work on.”
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7852.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Classics radio still has a home on Western Pennsylvania dials
- Beyonce, Miley stand out at MTV Video Music Awards
- Rusted Root will headline the Allegheny County Music Festival
- Kings of Leon cancels Pittsburgh concert