AND INSIDE STRAIGHT
February 27, 2021 | 7:30 PM
Six-time GRAMMY-winning jazz bassist Christian McBride can be likened to a force of nature, fusing the fire and fury of a virtuoso with the depth and grounding of a seasoned journeyman. With a career now blazing into its third decade, the Philadelphia native has become one of the most requested, most recorded, and most respected figures in the music world today.
McBride moved to New York in 1989 to pursue classical studies at the Juilliard School. There he was promptly recruited to the road by saxophonist Bobby Watson. Call it a change in curriculum: a decade’s worth of study through hundreds of recording sessions and countless gigs with an ever-expanding circle of musicians.
In 2000 the lessons of the road came together in the formation of what would become his longest-running project, the Christian McBride Band, praised by writer Alan Leeds as “one of the most intoxicating, least predictable bands on the scene today.”
In 2009 McBride began focusing this same energy through a more traditional lens with the debut of his critically-acclaimed Inside Straight quintet, and again with the Christian McBride Big Band, whose 2012 release The Good Feeling won the GRAMMY for Best Large Ensemble Jazz Album.
He is also a respected educator and advocate. He has been named Artistic Director of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Sessions (2000) and the Newport Jazz Festival (2016), co-director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem (2005), and the Second Creative Chair for Jazz of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (2005).
Currently he hosts and produces “The Lowdown: Conversations With Christian” on SiriusXM satellite radio and National Public Radio’s “Jazz Night in America,” a weekly radio show and multimedia collaboration between WBGO, NPR and Jazz at Lincoln Center, showcasing outstanding live jazz from across the country.
Completing the circle is his work with Jazz House Kids, the nationally recognized community arts organization founded by his wife, vocalist Melissa Walker. Exclusively dedicated to educating children through jazz, the “Jazz House” concept brings internationally renowned jazz performers to teach alongside a professional staff, offering students a wide range of creative programming that develops musical potential, enhances leadership skills, and strengthens academic performance.
From jazz (McCoy Tyner, Roy Haynes, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny) to R&B (Isaac Hayes, Chaka Khan, Natalie Cole, and the one and only Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown) to pop/rock (Sting, Paul McCartney, Carly Simon) to hip-hop/neo-soul (The Roots, Queen Latifah) to classical (Kathleen Battle, Edgar Meyer, Shanghai Quartet), he is a luminary with one hand ever reaching for new heights, and the other extended in fellowship—and perhaps the hint of a challenge—inviting us to join him.
Inside Straight is an acoustic quintet formed by McBride in 2009.
Kind of Brown, their debut studio album, was released in 2009. Will Lyman of PopMatters wrote “This music is unself-consciously traditional: it’s fun; it swings its ass off. It’s not experimental, but it gives superb voice to several brilliant players and one new discovery. And now Christian McBride, the finest bassist of his generation, is on track.”
In 2013, the group released People Music. Corey Brown of Notreble said “The new album finds the quintet in hard-swing mode, delivering what they call “more road-tested, ‘lived-in’ Inside Straight” in an accessible way, and one that makes the audience part of the experience.”