Making virtue out of necessity: this could be the meaning of “A Christian McBride Situation”, a project born from the fertile imagination and resourcefulness of the double bass player, composer and leader from Philadelphia. Scheduled at the Monterey festival, McBride had to deal at the last minute with the forfeiture of some of the musicians of his band. Instead of cancelling the date, he looked around and formed a new band, which included singers and FDJs, with other artist friends of his who were present at the festival. Thus “A Christian McBride Situation” came into being, which turned out to be a non-ephemeral release. Now here it is at this edition of Umbria Jazz, where McBride has been present various times in recent years and always with different formulas.
Chris McBride is not only a double bass player of unparalleled virtuosity but is also one of the most respected and influential personalities in American music.
More even than the five Grammys he has won to date, impresses the fact that, at 47, he has participated in the recording of more than 300 albums of all kinds. It means that one recognises and admires the monstrous technique and flexibility of this extraordinary musician, at ease with both the double bass and the electric bass, but above all that natural musicality that makes seem easy things that are, instead, very difficult. If the double bass is the pillar on which the balance of any band rests, McBride is an absolute first choice. Among many, this has been the opinion of jazzmen like Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins, J.J. Johnson, Milt Jackson, McCoy Tyner, Roy Haynes, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny or of stars of soul like James Brown, Chaka Khan, Isaac Hayes, Natalie Cole and even of pop stars like Sting, Paul McCartney, Carly Simon. You can also find Christian McBride’s bass in the hip-hop/neo-soul of The Roots, D’Angelo, Queen Latifah and even in support of classical singers like Kathleen Battle.
McBride is however, first of all, a leader who writes and arranges excellent music, not just a virtuoso instrumentalist. An eclectic leader capable of leading minimal groups like the trio or more complicated formations like the big band, at complete ease in straight ahead acoustic jazz as in the more experimental formulas.