The McBride Diaries (Vol.11)
Posted on 7/7/2005at 2:23 AM
How long has it been?
Folks, you just don't have any idea! Things are SO busy! I feel like I haven't written anything in the "diary" in ages. In fact, one "tradition" I've always had on this website is writing my "a look ahead" entry forecasting the year. I didn't do that this year. Man, I'm so sorry. (I feel so guilty as I cry in my morning tea!)
As I sit here in the lobby of the Marmara Hotel in Istanbul, Turkey, I've been pining over the last 6 months and the upcoming 6 months, and man, activity reigns supreme! If you've visited the website and looked at the "gigs" page at all this year, you don't really need me to tell you what I've been doing this year, but I'll give you my personal inside scoop on what's been going on....
The CMB brought in the new year with a gig at the Jazz Standard in NYC. Our very special friend, vocalist Melissa Walker joined us for the gig. We had a very good time. Even Broadway star Idina Menzel joined us onstage. How about that, huh? My week was a bit spoiled as I was saddened about the death of the great actor, Jerry Orbach. All of my friends know that "Law and Order" is my show. I religiously watch it on TNT every night (Well, as much as I can). In a salute to Detective Lennie Briscoe, we played the theme song to "Law and Order" each night.
Probably the main reason I didn't write my "a look ahead: preview and review" entry at the beginning of the year is because I was planning the new CMB live album which was recorded at Tonic on January 10 and 11. Did we have a ball or what? The stage couldn't have been set any better - a club who's clientele consists mainly of college kids and forward-thinking, experimental minds, and a progressive, fun, independent record label doing the recording (Rope-a-Dope Records) - my dream conditions for a live album! Consequently, when we hit the stage, I got very, very scared. (I suppose I can admit that now!) The situation was now, "Alright McBride, you got what you asked for....now, what have YOU got???" I realize that many of the people in the crowd weren't exactly overly familiar with me or the CMB. Many people showed up out of curiosity, or they were Tonic regulars, or they were Rope-a-Dope followers. Now, with all of this excitement, angst and electricity raging in my body, I knew we had to come out hittin' hard. But the worst thing that could have happened....DID!
As we ripped, tore and raged through the introduction of "Technicolor Nightmare", my close friends, cohorts and lots of possible lifetime CMB followers looked at us with firm approval. Then, the equipment gods decided they would bring me back to earth in the most cruel and brutal way. As soon as the intro/bass solo was over and I'm about to start the bass line to the song, Terreon built it up strong, then a massive, terribly, terribly loud 10 second "BBBBBBRRRRRRRRZZZZZZZ" blared out of my amplifier! In those 10 seconds, in these particular conditions, I saw my entire life flash before my eyes! So, now, I'm terribly embarrassed and angry at my equipment (I was ready to do a Pete Townshend!), but I had to make a quick decision, "Do I stop and start over again like they would at a television show taping? Or do I suck it up and keep going?" But the problem was, so I thought, if I start over, I'll NEVER get that fresh, first-time, hard-core adrenaline rush from the audience again, so we continued with an album-useless version of "Technicolor Nightmare"! But the crowd felt so sorry for me, they sent strong, telepathic pats on the back (and giggles) and egged us on for the rest of the night. The crowd was fierce. We continued the first set with some new material (Terreon Gully's "Say Something", Ron Blake's "Sonic Tonic", etc, etc) and some old material. ("Lejos de Usted" "Boogie Woogie Waltz" etc, etc)
The second set we were joined by the three-handed Charlie Hunter, the two-fisted Jason Moran, and violinist Jenny Scheinman brought us some brand new energy. And I mean BRAND new! We didn't even meet until the intermission after the first set! But we just got up there and flowed. It was so great to get up onstage and just jam and experiment with great musicians and an even greater audience. They hung on our every note. We didn't even discuss what we would play. Terreon and I made up some grooves on the spot, and everyone followed suit. Lots of fun.
The following night saw no audio equipment disasters, so we were cool. (This will be the version of "Technicolor Nightmare" you'll hear on the CD!!) The most special part of this night was the second set where it was just as loose, free and experimental as the first night, but THIS second set was a straight up P-A-R-T-Y!! With DJ Logic, Scratch (from the Roots), Eric Krasno and Rashawn Ross (from Soulive) sitting in, you KNOW it was a serious JAM!! The only thing was Scratch sounds so incredibly similar to real turntables, I couldn't tell the difference between him and Logic most of the night! I guess we'll have to split them in mixing. A good time was had by all. Look for the release in Jan '06.
In February, I took my first trip to Australia with Lalo Schifrin. Australia was awesome. The people were great and the orchestras were tremendous. In Adelaide (down in the south), we were in the territory where there were a lot of Aborigines. The Aborigines are the original natives of Australia. Much like Native American Indians, they've endured a very trying taste of imperialism in their country. On the flip side of the coin, Black Americans are adored. It was weird to be in a place where people stared at you because they actually thought you were cool! THAT doesn't happen often in the world! I went to an open-air zoo in Adelaide where I saw Tasmanian Devils, Koala Bears, and, of course, Kangaroos. We then went to Sydney. Ah, yes, the Gotham of Australia. Not quite as intimate as Adelaide, but very hip nonetheless. It had a very Pacific Northwest feel. Sydney in its design shockingly looks much like Seattle with its commuter monorail through the downtown area, and the Sydney River that looks like Bainbridge Island or something. And even the Opera House looks a bit like Safeco Field! We were there to record another volume of Lalo's "Jazz Meets the Symphony." It's always a pleasure to work with Lalo. This marks the first time after working with Lalo all these years that we actually played the theme from "Mission: Impossible." I know this sounds corny, but playing that actually sent shivers up my back. You know how I feel about that dramatic TV and movie music.
After Australia, the CMB played a gig at the Tralf in Buffalo. (Sydney to Buffalo????) The Tralf is one of my favorite clubs. The next night we played in Utica. (Sydney - Buffalo - UTICA?? Man, that's....a stretch!) We played the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute. A fun weekend. Although, keep in mind, In February, it's summer in Australia. You know what it feels like in Buffalo in February, right? That was a cruel trick by my booking agency to go from Sydney to Buffalo!! From shorts to shawls!! After the upstate gigs, we came back to Manhattan and played a real good four nights at Birdland.
After Birdland, the CMB went to our Midwest home, the Bistro in St. Louis. (How many homes do we have now? What?....three?) No need for details here. Gigs in our "homes" are always great. Although I think this was the first gig ever at the Bistro where our equipment actually worked on the first night! We have a funny tradition there - our stuff NEVER works on the first night. I guess the curse has been lifted. Terreon's mom and stepdad did it again with the soul food. I could play there every month, man!
After St. Louis, we did a gig at a new place for us - the Mt. Vernon Country Club outside of Denver. Now, think real hard, "Mount - Vernon - Country - Club - Outside - Denver." Say each word slowly and think about ......jazz. Doesn't really work, does it? Man, let me tell you, MT VERNON RULES!!!!!! The audience was a cross between the Fillmore and St. Paul Baptist Church!! REALLY can't wait to go back there! Sometimes I forget the amount of soul in Denver.
After Denver, we played the Zellerbach Auditorium in Berkeley, California. No need for details here, either. We all know the vibe in Berkeley. The perfect place for all things creative.
In the middle of these gigs with CMB were three fun gigs with Roy Haynes. I was extremely honored to play with Roy on his 80th birthday. I think Roy Haynes's DNA has been sampled to further the life span of mankind. It's FREAKISH how youthful he is. 80 years old and walking with a strut and talking with a strut and playing like NO ONE ELSE! God bless him. I hope I'm playing with him on his 90th birthday. We played at the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco with an all-star band that featured Roy along with Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Kenny Garrett, Joshua Redman and Nicholas Payton. It was a great gig. We also played two gigs in Providence and the Terrace Theater at the Kennedy Center in DC.
In April, I made a rare visit to Texas with Chick Corea. We played in Austin and Dallas (Addison). It was fun to play with Chick and Steve Gadd, although I thought it was weird it was only two gigs. But, hey, I'm not complaining. I'm happy to play with Chick for ONE gig. We played a lot of the stuff Chick and Steve recorded together like "Humpty Dumpty", "Sicily", etc, etc.
After that, I flew to Stockton to complete my duties for the year at the Brubeck Institute. In celebration of Dave Brubeck and the Brubeck Institute, the city of Stockton and the University of the Pacific started the "Brubeck Festival" which is basically a week of performances by various artists - including Dave himself - celebrating the Brubeck legacy. I got to play a duet performance with Dave. What a tremendously joyous sprit he plays with.
After that, I got a heavy dose of soul as I played on Kirk Whalum's upcoming CD. Some of you "jazz heads" are sleeping BIG TIME on Kirk. He's one of the baddest cats out here. He can play anything - and play it well! But you know how it is - if you're too soulful, snooty jazz fans and writers call your music "ignorant". (wanna read in between the lines?) You gotta have something in odd-meter or with some European influence to make it "intelligent." Hey, look, I love Kirk Whalum.
In May, the CMB played a gig in Bakersfield, CA. It was a fun gig, although it was hard flying from New York to Bakersfield for just one night. My booking agency tried to find some other gigs, but we just couldn't get anything else out there. Some of you romanticists are probably saying, "Oh, those jazz musicians are so dedicated. What they won't do for the love of the music..." Look, I can "love the music" at home! That gig was for the love of GETTING MY BILLS PAID ON TIME!!
We move to the homestretch....
In June, I played a classical concert for the second year in a row with The Shanghai Quartet during the CMB's annual residency at the University of Richmond. This year, we played the Dvorak string quintet in G major. I didn't sweat QUITE as much as I did last year. The CMB also played a fun gig with our brother, Russell Malone as our special guest, and we played a SMOKIN' gig with Russell Gunn. Gunn was a perfect foil for us. Sadly, we were met with the news that the school would be closing the curtain on their summer series at the Modlin Center, which officially ends our annual residency at the University of Richmond. Kathleen Panoff, the director of the Modlin Center, has consistently displayed some of the most incredible foresight of any presenter in the performing arts. She knows just about everything going on in the jazz and classical world, and the Modlin Center has had literally EVERYONE there during her tenure. I'm disappointed that the summer series didn't get the support it needed to carry on. Anyone who's a real CMB fan would have loved to have been in Richmond with us every summer. That was our lab. We had a LOT of great shows with a lot of special guests like Claudia Acuna, Regina Carter, Stefon Harris, Rene Marie, Doug Richards and the Great American Music Ensemble, Russell Malone and Russell Gunn. I hope we continue our tradition there somehow.
After Richmond, I flew to LA to record with Chris Botti. I'll tell you what, Chris is slick. Underneath all that pretty boy, Oprah, Sting, blond hair, superstar s***, is one hell of a trumpet player. Of course, mainstream stardom immediately puts you out of the realm of consideration in the jazz world, so no one would ever know that. But he's not like every single solitary trumpet player you hear in smooth jazz - he can actually PLAY!! More power to him. After Chris's session, I played on an upcoming recording by my good friend, Gina Gershon. What did she do, you might be asking? She sang and played Jew's Harp. She a good songwriter, too. Linda Perry produced it. (remember her from "Four Non Blondes"?)
Lastly, a couple of weeks ago, I played at the Beacon Theater back in NYC in a rather utopian tribute to Jaco Pastorius. Every electric bassist known to man (and Steps Ahead) was on this gig - Jeff Berlin, Matt Garrison, Oteil Burbridge, Will Lee, Victor Wooten and Steve Bailey, Gerald Veasley, Richard Bona, Felix Pastorius, Julius Pastorius (on drums) and little ol' me. Conspicuously missing was Victor Bailey. Rumor had it that he declined the offer. Needless to say, it was a great night. Felix Pastorius SHOCKINGLY looks just like his father. I almost had a heart attack watching him play! My favorite was Oteil Burbridge. He played an amazing solo rendition of "Three Views of a Secret" on 6-string. It was incredible! It was so pianistic. The first bass player I ever heard who sounded like Chick Corea!!
Now, I'm on the road with David Sanborn. We're having a great time. What an amazing musician he is. It's fun playing all this funky music. We're playing some old stuff and some new stuff from his last two albums that I played on. Good band, too - Terri Lyne Carrington, Don Alias and Gil Goldstein. I hope I get to play with David some more after this tour is over. OH, BY THE WAY.....
I saw something on All About Jazz.com that said that "Geoff Keezer and Terreon Gully are playing with Sanborn now..." Well, actually they're making some gigs with him just like I am. Kind of like when Joey Calderazzo and Jeff "Tain" Watts were making gigs with Michael Brecker. Actually, Sanborn's fall tour was supposed to be him with the CMB, but my fall tour with Pat Metheny was already booked. Don't worry, they are still members of the CMB. Until Terreon, Ron or Geoffrey tell me that they no longer want to play with me, they'll ALWAYS be members of the CMB, 'cause it's not like I'll ever fire them! :-)