Christian McBride

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Christian McBride
Bassist Christian McBride.jpg
McBride at the 2009 Detroit Jazz Festival
Photo: Brian Callahan
Background information
Birth name Christian Lee McBride
Born (1972-05-31) May 31, 1972 (age 43)
Origin Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Genres Jazz, jazz fusion
Occupation(s) Bassist
Years active 1989-present
Labels Verve, Warner Bros., Ropeadope, Mack Avenue

Christian McBride (born May 31, 1972, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American jazz bassist.

McBride is considered a virtuoso, and is one of the most recorded musicians of his generation; he has appeared on more than 300 recordings as a sideman. He is also a four-time Grammy award winner.


His father, Lee Smith, and his great uncle, Howard Cooper, are well known Philadelphia bassists who served as McBride's early mentors.

After starting on bass guitar, McBride switched to double bass and studied at the Juilliard School.[1]

He has performed and recorded with a number of jazz legends and ensembles, including Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Brad Mehldau, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Joe Henderson, Diana Krall, Roy Haynes, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Wynton Marsalis, Hank Jones, Lewis Nash, Joshua Redman, and Ray Brown's "Superbass" with John Clayton, as well as with pop, hip-hop. soul, and pop musicians like Sting, Paul McCartney, Celine Dion, Isaac Hayes, The Roots,[2] Queen Latifah, Kathleen Battle, Renee Fleming, Carly Simon, Bruce Hornsby, and James Brown.

McBride was heralded as a teen prodigy having joined saxophonist Bobby Watson's group at age 17. From age 17 to 22, he played in the bands of older legends such as Watson, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, Milt Jackson, J.J. Johnson and Hank Jones as well as his peers such as Roy Hargrove, Benny Green and Joshua Redman. In 1996, jazz bass legend Ray Brown formed a group called "SuperBass" built around McBride and fellow Brown protegé John Clayton. The group released two CDs: SuperBass: Live at Scullers (1997) and SuperBass 2: Live at the Blue Note (2001).

McBride was a member of Joshua Redman's Quartet in the 1990s with pianist Brad Mehldau and drummer Brian Blade. In 1995 McBride began leading his own groups after his debut CD Gettin' To It (Verve Records) was released. Saxophonist Tim Warfield, pianists Charles Craig and Joey Calderazzo, and drummers Carl Allen and Greg Hutchinson are among the musicians who played in McBride's early groups. From 2000 to 2008, McBride fronted his own acoustic / electric, jazz, fusion and funk ensemble, "The Christian McBride Band" with saxophonist Ron Blake, pianist/keyboardist Geoffrey Keezer and drummer Terreon Gully. As writer Alan Leeds stated in 2003, it was "one of the most intoxicating, least predictable bands on the scene..."[citation needed] The band released two CD's - Vertical Vision (Warner Brothers Records | 2003) and their Live at Tonic three-CD set was released in 2006.

In 1996, McBride contributed to the AIDS benefit album Offbeat: A Red Hot Soundtrip produced by the Red Hot Organization.

McBride primarily plays upright bass, but is equally adept on the electric bass. He played bass for the collaborative project, "The Philadelphia Experiment." The Philadelphia Experiment included keyboardist Uri Caine and hip-hop drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson. Other projects have included tours and recordings with the Pat Metheny Trio, the Bruce Hornsby Trio, and Queen Latifah. Like Paul Chambers, McBride can solo by playing his bass arco style.

In 2006, McBride was named to the position of "Creative Chair for Jazz" with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, taking over from Dianne Reeves. He was initially signed to a two-year contract that was subsequently renewed for an additional two years. He was eventually succeeded by Herbie Hancock in 2010.[3]

McBride performed with Sonny Rollins and Roy Haynes at Carnegie Hall on September 18, 2007, in commemoration of Rollins' 50th anniversary of his first performance there.[4] McBride was also tapped by CBS to be a producer for the tribute to Rollins on the 2011 Kennedy Center Honors broadcast.

In 2008, McBride joined John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Kenny Garrett and Vinnie Colaiuta in a jazz fusion supergroup called the Five Peace Band. They released a CD in February 2009 and completed their world tour in May of that year, as Brian Blade took over for Vinnie Colaiuta as drummer in Asia and some US concerts. The CD Five Peace Band Live won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group

In 2011 McBride released his first big band album, The Good Feeling, for which he won the Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance.

As of 2013, McBride currently leads four groups: "Inside Straight" featuring alto/soprano saxophonist Steve Wilson, vibraphonist Warren Wolf, pianist Peter Martin and drummer Carl Allen; a trio featuring pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr., his 18-piece big band, and an experimental group called "A Christian McBride Situation" with pianist/keyboardist Patrice Rushen, turntablists DJ Logic and Jahi Sundance, saxophonist Ron Blake and vocalist Alyson Williams.

Personal life[edit]

Christian is married to jazz singer and educator Melissa Walker. Walker, with contributions by McBride, leads the Jazz House Kids, a jazz school in their home town of Montclair, New Jersey. Each summer, they both appear at the Montclair Jazz Festival, along with student ensembles led by the instructors, professional ensembles composed of instructors, and guest acts.

McBride shared the story of his first encounters with Freddie Hubbard, "The Gig", and his relationship with James Brown "Mr. Soul On Top" on the Peabody Award-winning Moth Radio Hour, a radio show and podcast devoted to story-telling.[5]

  • Discography
McBride, left with Jimmy Heath

As leader[edit]

Title Year of release Label
Gettin' To It 1995 Verve
Number Two Express 1996 Verve
A Family Affair 1998 Verve
SciFi 2000 Verve
The Philadelphia Experiment 2001 Ropeadope Records
Vertical Vision 2003 Warner Bros. Records
Live at Tonic 2006 Ropeadope Records
Kind of Brown 2009 Mack Avenue
The Good Feeling 2011 Mack Avenue
Conversations with Christian 2011 Mack Avenue
People Music 2013 Mack Avenue
Out Here 2013 Mack Avenue
Live at the Village Vanguard 2015 Mack Avenue


  • It's Christmas on Mack Avenue (Mack Avenue, 2014)

As sideman[edit]

with Gary Bartz

With Regina Belle

With Chris Botti

With Don Braden

With Chick Corea

With George Duke

With Joseph Tawadros

  • Permission to Evaporate (2014)

With Benny Green

With Roy Hargrove

With Joe Henderson

With Bruce Hornsby

With Freddie Hubbard

With Hank Jones

With Diana Krall

With Queen Latifah

With Joe Lovano

With Harold Mabern

With Paul McCartney

With Brad Mehldau

With Pat Metheny and Antonio Sanchez

With Joshua Redman

With David Sanborn

With Yutaka Shiina

  • United (1998)

With Jimmy Smith

With Sting

With McCoy Tyner

With Cedar Walton

With Michael Wolff

  • Jumpstart (1995)
  • 2AM (1997)

CD reviews[edit]


  1. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Christian McBride: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  2. ^ [1] Archived April 16, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Christian McBride bio" (PDF). Los Angeles Philharmonic. Retrieved September 23, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Garnegie Hall official website". Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  5. ^ The Moth, February 10, 2011.

External links[edit]