The McBride Diaries (Vol.18)
Posted on 12/18/2006at 1:11 AM

August was sort of a fog. I spent the entire month playing through gigs kind of unfocused knowing that I was only counting down the days to the big James Brown show. Not exactly a good thing considering that one of those gigs in August was the CMB live at the Hollywood Bowl! One of the gigs that I put together for the jazz program this past summer was one with the CMB, Joshua Redman’s Trio, and Herbie Hancock. If I must say so myself, it was pretty doggone good! Since local critics are always mouthing off about “real” jazz at the bowl, I figured I’d simutaneously put together a good “real” jazz show AND shut up the critics. It worked! Joshua, of course, did an awesome job with his trio of Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland. And as far as I’m concerned, all Herbie has to do is just touch the piano, and life’s all better. My guys did a hell of a job, too. The only thing was, I found myself getting very, very nervous as our slot approached. This big, booming voice came across the Hollywood Bowl speakers, “AND NOW, PLEASE WELCOME THE LA PHILHARMONIC’S CREATIVE CHAIR FOR JAZZ, CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE, AND THE CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE BAND!!” Man, that kind of messed me up. What’s a big drag is that when I get nervous, my arms get tensed up, and I can’t get around my instrument. It’s like my hands and arms get locked. Oh, what a drag that is. So, here we are opening with “Clerow’s Flipped”, a song in which I need all of my dexterity, and I get to the big descending triplet line, and I’m all locked up! Shoot! It gets worse….

Usually, when my chops lock up like that, all I need is to get through the first song, and then I’m cool, but not this night. We then went into “Sonic Tonic”, where I open the song with an unaccompanied bass solo. I play my first couple of lines, and I’m still all tensed up. Man, I’m dying! I’m trying to breathe deep, think about food, think about ANYTHING that will loosen me up. It’s not working. You know how I’m always comparing bass players to offensive lineman? Well, on this night, I felt like a 375-pound right tackle trying to return a 99 yard fumble. I was running out of steam…and FAST! Somehow, I fought through it and managed to salvage some type of worthwhile solo. Thank goodness, I’ve got such bad cats like Ron, Geoffrey and Terreon. They had my back – as always.

Another interesting gig we had later that month was in Saalfelden, Austria. I was very flattered to be a part of a jazz festival that primarily featured experimental, progressive bands. Usually, at every jazz festival all over the world, there’s always a few sure fire “seat fillers”. Usually, of course, they’re not jazz artists, but hey, you gotta do what you have to do to keep the money rolling so you can HAVE the real jazz cats. But this festival had no smooth jazz cats, no pop stars, just real hard-core lower east side-type of bands. Of course, in Saalfelden, you can get away with that! Not in the US! We spent a lot of time hanging out with Dafnis Prieto, Dana Leong, and Mr. Henry Threadgill. Also on the festival were Tomasz Stanko, Jason Moran, Abdullah Ibrahim, Steve Coleman, and a lot of awesome European artists and bands such as Lorenz Raab, The Lucien Dubuis Trio, and Max Nagl.

Something else about that gig that was truly European which I hadn't experienced in a long time was that we started at 12:30AM! How cool! I miss that.

After that gig, it was all about THE GODFATHER!

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