The McBride Diaries (Vol.10)
Posted on 11/28/2004at 1:44 PM
No, I'm not talking about Bruce Springsteen, either.

What's happening? I'm sure that's what you're asking ME, right? I don't want you to think that the whole "Soul On Top" thing took me out that much. I realized that it's been so long since the last post, you probably thought that I was really upset about the "Soul on Top" reissue. Trust me, I got too much happening to be worried about that. I got a band I'm trying to lead! :-) I do apologize for taking so long to write a new post. But, because it's taken so long to write a new post, you know what that means, don't you? I've got a LOT to tell you. Let's go back to the second half of July.....

The rest of the Pat Metheny tour was absolutely brilliant. One particular thing I discovered on this tour was the absolute sincere soul and feeling of eastern European audiences. Fans in Poland, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia were so tremendously spirited and joyful, I could play there all the time. It's the type of audience that most jazz musicians long for - an audience that gives back what you give them. I heard someone say, "Well, you know, these countries were part of the Soviet Union for so long, they'd appreciate anything." Once again, we know-it-all educated and cultured Americans telling us how it is, right? Well, it's not that frivolous. It's not like these people never heard good or bad music before they became independent countries. They know the difference. They're not going to scream for B***S***. Well, they might scream in protest! The only audiences like this are the ones you find in black neighborhoods like in Harlem, West Philly, South Central LA, Oakland, Newark, DC and Atlanta (and at the Green Dolphin in Chicago!). But as for Pat and Antonio, they were brilliant, as usual. I'm so looking forward to the release of the trio recording. I don't know when that will be, but I hope it'll be soon.

After Pat's tour was over, I went to Aspen for the annual JAS festivities. Also, as usual, this year was wonderful. For the first time, we held a concert in conjunction with the popular Aspen Music Festival program for classical musicians. Usually, when jazz concepts are combined with European classical concepts, the results can sometimes be, at best, suspect. But, with Loren Schoenberg and Earl Carlyss (great mentor of the Juilliard String Quartet) leading the way, the results were very hip. The Degas string quartet played and IMPROVISED on a Dvorak piece along with me and Adonis Rose on drums. Although, I wonder - only every now and then do I still get this feeling that somehow jazz gets "legitimized" when it's presented in this type of setting. I don't get that feeling from the musicians, you get it from the people watching or "supporting". It's a feeling of "Boy, these jazz musicians really ARE intelligent!" I could be wrong, but I know way too many musicians who feel the same way. The clinicians this year were Loren Schoenberg and I (duh!), Wycliff Gordon, Terrell Stafford, Russell Malone, Benny Green, Carl Allen, Tierney Sutton and Melissa Walker. Everyone did a fabulous job. Sadly, our summer was somewhat ruined as we learned of the death of someone who we all loved dearly, the great pianist, composer and educator, James Williams. All of us did what we could not to let our sadness get in the way of the job at hand.

AUGUST:

After Aspen, I went to LA for the annual Mancini Institute festivities. This year, I was able to play two of my charts with the HMI Big Band ("In a Hurry" and "Shade of the Cedar Tree"). As always, Justin DiCioccio had the band rollin'. The students are always great at Mancini. So tremendously talented. Unfortunately, I didn't get to hang as long as I usually do.

After LA, I played the Newport Jazz Festival with a band that made all promoters drool - McCoy Tyner, Roy Haynes, Ravi Coltrane and Michael Brecker. It was called.....go ahead, take a wild guess....."A Tribute to Coltrane". Gee, you think??? Regardless of what the promoters thought, I can't tell you the rush you get playing with McCoy (who's playing better than EVER) and Roy Haynes together. Wow, what greatness. Add Michael and Ravi, and you have two more cherries on top of the sundae! There were so many great bands at the festival this year - Ron Carter Trio, Jon Faddis Big Band with Clark Terry, James Moody and Phil Woods; Dianne Reeves, Branford Marsalis Quartet, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock/Wayne Shorter Band, etc, etc. One of the great stories I heard was from Roy Haynes. At 79, one does not need to pull any punches or feel weird telling the sho' nuff truth. Roy Haynes tells the truth! Needless to say, one of the angles the press took for the Coltrane Tribute band was it being 41 years after the Coltrane Newport '63 live recording. Roy Haynes says, "You people are a trip. Let me tell you something, when we played that concert here in '63, they stuck Trane on last. By the time we finished, there was NOBODY left in the audience! Don't you go telling me how great and legendary that concert was!" Whoop, there it is!

Also, I played on Ron Blake's upcoming CD which was produced by Me'Shell N'Degeocello. It's happening! I love where jazz can go.... I also played on my "other" dad's CD, George Duke. I don't need to say how that was. Playing with "pops" is ALWAYS great.

After that, I went on vacation!

SEPTEMBER:

September saw the return of the CMB at our "home" in Oakland, Yoshi's. As much as I wish my professional world could revolve around the CMB (rather than the other way around), it's nice to know that Yoshi's always washes that anxiety away. We also played at Kuumbwa in Santa Cruz, Jazz Alley in Seattle, The Iron Horse in Northampton and finally, the Annenberg Center in Philly. I'll tell you what, it was the perfect run for a hungry band! All of those gigs were great. Every single audience was "on". I'm sure by now you know that I HATE quiet jazz audiences. Well, I don't mind it quiet when we play a ballad! I like an audience that feels the music rather than hears the music. Most jazz musicians like an attentive, classical-music type of audience. Not me, Jack! I need some whooping and hollerin'! Even for straight ahead. You ever listen to the audiences on those great Cannonball Adderley live albums? That's what I'm talking about!

OCTOBER:

October was pretty light. The one gig that really stood out was a tribute to Ray Brown at the TriBeCa Performing Arts Center in New York. I put together a trio with Geoffrey Keezer and Greg Hutchinson. Ray Brown is very much alive in all of the people he touched. His spirit ran rampant around the theater that night. His wife, Cecilia, flew out from LA for the concert. It was a wonderful, wonderful night.

After the Ray tribute, I wound up getting an interesting call: I got a call to be the musical director for Carly Simon's first live New York appearance in a decade - at the Apollo Theater! It will be a Christmas concert called "Miracle on 125th Street." The concert will also feature the great Bebe Winans. I couldn't help but wonder if this was going to be ALL Christmas carols, I mean, after all, people want to hear Carly's great hits. She agreed!! So, it'll be a Xmas concert along with a little, "Let the River Run," "Anticipation," etc, etc, etc. Check out the "gigs" page for the link to the Apollo Theater website.

NOVEMBER:

Novemeber's been a great month for the CMB. We just got back from a GREAT European tour. This has been one of the best tours we've ever done. Why? Because we played a bunch of shows in eastern Europe!! Go back to what I said about Pat Metheny's tour, and apply the same, exact thing to this tour. Everyone in Poznan (Poland), Villnius (Lithuania), and Belgrade (Serbia) were just so, so great. I could play there all the time. I mean that. They're the best audiences anywhere in the world. Actually, you should go to George Duke's website and see what he said about playing in Georgia. Eastern Europe is deep. Very deep. To top it off, we played at our European "home", The Jazz Cafe in London. For everything Yoshi's means to us in the USA, the Jazz Cafe means that to us in Europe. We love playing there. It's hot, it's funky, and it's standing-room-only on the main floor. So, if you can't jam, you can't even GO to the club! We also played the new Blue Note in Milan and the Handelsbeurs in Gent, Belgium. We've worked in some new tunes for our upcoming live CD....

"WHAT??????" I hope you're asking......

More news on that in a minute.

Earlier this year, I told you about two things that would happen this year. One will happen, one will not. One, the new website will be up before the new year. I've seen it. It is B-A-D! Two, I'm through trying to figure out when the next Philadelphia Experiment CD will happpen. If I stop thinking about it, maybe it'll happen.

Gotta split. Eagles vs. Giants is coming on.........

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