Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

May/June 2017: Buster Williams (Festival Edition)

Christian McBride

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There are a few things that I believe very strongly: BBQ sauce isn’t an acceptable substitute for tomato sauce on pizza, stepping on a crack rarely breaks your mother’s back, and Christian McBride is an alien from a planet of omni-dimensional, hyper-swinging beings, who crash-landed on Earth about 40 years ago and is just keeping himself busy here while he waits for a ride back home. His website, however, will tell you that he was born and raised in Philadelphia. Either way, it’s hard to argue that Christian McBride isn’t one of the swingingest bass players on this side of the Milky Way.

The first time I saw Christian McBride perform, I was 13 years old and couldn’t tell my E string from my A string. It was Saturday night at the Grand Theatre in Kingston Ontario, and the audience had no idea what we were in for. Within seconds, heads were rocking and bodies swaying. There wasn’t a stationary foot for miles. McBride administered a near-lethal dose of perfectly placed quarter notes, occasionally interrupted by an earth-shattering bass solo. And just when I thought I had seen it all, he pulled out a bow, and played the most beautiful, heart-wrenching, soulful ballad I had ever heard. I was stunned. I walked out of the theatre with a copy of his CD, and an entirely new idea of what was possible on the double bass.

After obsessively checking out records and live videos, I realized that McBride’s level of performance that night was not an irregular occurrence. He raises the bar every time he sets foot in the studio or on the bandstand. Thanks to his immense ability as a musician, McBride has established a reputation as one of the most capable, recorded bassists of our time. Since 1990, he’s recorded with some of the world’s greatest jazz musicians, including Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, and Pat Metheny. Outside of jazz, he’s performed with the Shanghai Quartet, Edgar Meyer, Paul McCartney, Sting, Chaka Khan, D’Angelo, Queen Latifah, and James Brown, to name a few.

On June 20, as part of the Winnipeg Jazz Festival, Christian McBride takes over the stage at the West End Cultural Centre to shock a few earthlings with his other-worldly abilities. Don’t miss this!

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