Posted on 9/3/2005at 2:29 PM
September 1, 2005

Bassist gets Philharmonic 'gig'
By Don Heckman, Special to The Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association announced Wednesday that bassist Christian McBride, one of the most highly regarded musicians in the jazz world, will succeed singer Dianne Reeves in the position of creative chair for jazz.

Like Reeves, who was named the association's first creative chair for jazz in 2002, McBride, 33, will be responsible for the annual selection of programs and participants for eight jazz concerts at the Hollywood Bowl and four at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Deborah Borda, president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn., described the two-year appointment as a coup. It was announced at a morning press conference at the Bowl.

In addition to his busy schedule as a first-call bassist and leader of his own ensembles, McBride serves as artistic director at Jazz Aspen Snowmass and the Dave Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific, and is co-director of the Jazz Museum in Harlem.

"I think one of the reasons they chose me is because I've worked with enough people and I've been involved in enough projects to bring diversity to the table, to do the whole cross-genre thing, but still have it be firmly rooted in jazz," McBride said in an interview.

McBride's impact on the Philharmonic's jazz programming will not be felt until the 2006 summer season at the Bowl, although he will perform with the Pat Metheny Trio and Quartet on Sept. 24 at Disney Hall. No firm selections for next year's schedule have been made, and while McBride was reluctant to discuss specific choices, he provided a glimpse at his programming wish list.

Placing well-known artists in unfamiliar settings is a high priority.

"Take Sting, for instance," McBride said. "Here's a guy who's very comfortable and quite prolific in a lot of different genres. So we could bring Sting in, but not with his band. We could bring him in with a string quintet, a jazz quintet, a big band — whatever. Then there's someone like a James Brown…. An example of a dream concert would be to put him in a big band — something like the 'Soul on Top' album he did with Louis Bellson — and do it live."

McBride, who recently married singer Melissa Walker, also expressed a desire to bring well-known instrumentalists such as McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea to the Bowl, as well as such rising talents as Nicholas Payton, Brad Mehldau, Jeremy Pelt and Lizz Wright.

He also plans to be involved as a player.

"I'd like to do a triple bill with my band, Joshua Redman's Elastic Band and Roy Hargrove's RH factor, because we're all kind of kin musically. And I'm hoping to do something with Benny Green and Russell Malone, with my big band, and maybe something classical with the L.A. Phil."

Born and bred in Philadelphia and a New York City resident for the past 16 years, McBride marveled at his cross-continental selection by the Philharmonic.

"Being such an East Coast guy, I feel incredibly honored to have been given such a great gig here in Los Angeles," he said.

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