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Last week Christian McBride ventured into the world of Herbie Hancock’s music in the 1970s, detailing the diversity of Hancock’s talent compositionally as well as in the variety of groups (particularly the early 70s Mwadishi ensemble) in which he performed. Other topics of discussion were Hancock’s writing for television (The Fat Albert special) and movies (Charles Bronson’s Deathwish) as well as jazz critics panning what they perceived as his commercial direction. McBride commented that Hancock wisely ignored such critiques. This week McBride will focus on Herbie Hancock’s music in the 1980s, which in some cases goes beyond even the commercial success of “Chameleon” on the Head Hunters album. McBride is coming off a week of performances at the Iridium club with Cedar Walton, and is preparing for his exclusive big band performance later this week at Jack Kleinsiger’s “Highlights in Jazz” series. In case you’re not aware of the extent of McBride’s musical background, see the following:
The finest musicians to spring from the world of jazz have clearly had an advantage when it comes to branching into other genres of music. Their mastery of composition, arranging and sight reading coupled with their flair for improvisation and spontaneous creation make them possibly the most seasoned and adaptable musicians in the art. Grammy Award winner Christian McBride, chameleonic virtuoso of the acoustic and electric bass, stands tall at the top of this clique. Beginning in 1989 the beginning of an amazing career in which he still has wider-reaching goals to attain - the Philadelphian has thus far been first-call-requested to accompany literally hundreds of fine artists, ranging in an impressive array from McCoy Tyner and Sting to Kathleen Battle and Diana Krall. However, it is his own recordings albums that encompass a diverse canon of original compositions and imaginatively arranged covers that reveal the totality of his musicianship. He currently leads one of the hottest bands in music - the propulsive Christian McBride Band (saxophonist Ron Blake, keyboardist Geoffrey Keezer and drummer Terreon Gully). The most awe-inspiring thing about Christian McBride is that his prowess as a player is only half of what makes him such a respected, in-demand and mind-bogglingly busy individual. The portrait is completed by a mere mid-thirty-something man who carved out time to speak at former President Clinton’s town hall meeting on “Racism in the Performing Arts”. He holds Artistic Director posts at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass summer program and the Dave Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. McBride participated in a Stanford University panel on “Black Performing Arts in Mainstream America.” Hes hosted insightful one-on-one “jazz chats” in Cyberspace on Sonicnet.com. He also scribed the foreword for pianist Jonny King’s book, What Jazz Is (Walker & Co., New York). 2005 witnessed his adding two more prestigious appointments to his resume. In January, he was named co-director of The Jazz Museum in Harlem. While assisting Leonard Garment and Loren Schoenberg in obtaining government grants and the participation of top flight historians/musicians, Christian will be focusing on a longtime concern: exposing jazz to young people.