Bassist Christian McBride to release project featuring big band on Sept. 27, 2011

Bassist Christian McBride reaches another milestone with the release of The Good Feeling, his first big band recording as a leader and newest release for Mack Avenue Records, on Sept. 27. For over 20 years, McBride has appeared in numerous musical settings with just about any musician imaginable in the jazz as well as R&B and pop worlds. From playing with the likes of Milt Jackson, Roy Haynes, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny; to playing with and/or arranging for the likes of Isaac Hayes, Chaka Khan, Lalah Hathaway, Sting and the legendary James Brown, what has always been unique about McBride is his versatility. In addition to his work in the neo-soul arena with The Roots, D’Angelo, Queen Latifah and others, the Philadelphia native has also led his own ensembles: The Christian McBride Band, A Christian McBride Situation and his most recent group, Inside Straight (fresh off their critically acclaimed 2009 effort, Kind of Brown). There are many sides to the musical persona of Christian McBride, and The Good Feeling has him realizing another one: as the leader, arranger and conductor of his big band.
McBride’s first foray into the world of big band composing and arranging dates back to 1995, when he was commissioned by Jazz At Lincoln Center to write Bluesin’ in Alphabet City, featured on The Good Feeling and originally debuted by Wynton Marsalis & The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra. Since that time he has composed a number of pieces for larger ensembles including The Movement Revisited, a five 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.
Putting a big band together is no easy task, but in this particular band, McBride feels fortunate to work with some of the most talented musicians in the jazz world. For his part, McBride feels that this process turned out the way he had hoped, with many musicians involved with whose work he is particularly familiar.
“[Trumpeter] Freddie Hendrix is one of the flagship guys in the big band, as is Frank Greene, along with trombonists Michael Dease and Steve Davis. (Steve and I go way back. He was one of my first calls). And the saxophone section was kind of a no brainer – Steve Wilson and Ron Blake – who have been the saxophonists in my last two working bands. I had to have those guys,” McBride says in a news release. “Now, one thing that seems to be my ‘Achilles heel’ with any band that I’ve had during my career is the piano chair, simply because everyone’s working all the time. But the X-Man, Xavier Davis, came in and did such a fantastic job.”
McBride’s interest in writing and arranging with a performer in mind is a trait that has been integral to the success of many great leaders of large ensembles, the most notable being the Duke Ellington Orchestra, with Ellington writing for specific musicians. McBride believes that philosophy works in his big band as well.
“Once you get the guys that you want, then you can write and arrange accordingly,” McBride said. “I’ve done that with all of my small groups. With the big band material, I had Steve Wilson in mind for Brother Mister; you’ve got Shake ‘n Blake that I wrote for Ron Blake. That song actually started out as a duo between he and I, but I thought it would work well for big band, so I just took the time to expand it; I just thought that song would be perfect for him. And I’m already hearing material that would be specifically suited for Michael Dease in the future. I think that’s what all the great band leaders have done – write music with the guys that you have in your band in mind. Because you know what will work.”


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