The McBride Diaries (Vol.21)
Posted on 1/8/2007at 4:46 PM
Right before Christmas, and all through the Yoshi’s gig with McCoy Tyner, I had the great fortune of doing a lot of playing with arguably the most copied, influential drummer of the last 25 years, Jeff “Tain” Watts. For you cannot find one single, solitary young drummer who doesn’t at some point, start playing their version of “Tain s*&#^”. Frankly, most of the time, it’s terribly annoying. I wish they’d let Tain do his own thing, because no one can do it like him. I played on Tain’s upcoming recording with Marcus Strickland, Dave Kikoski, and David Gilmore. It’s hot. Look out for that.

Also, The Jazz Museum in Harlem’s “Harlem Speaks” series ended with a bang, as the legendary Kareem Abdul Jabbar was our guest. Kareem’s return to his hometown of Harlem has been – and will continute to be – an even bigger shot in the arm for the Harlem community. Being able to interview him was a real, real treat. I asked Mr. Jabbar who did he think was the greatest improviser on the basketball court he ever witnessed, and he said it was “Pistol” Pete Maravich. I also asked him to name his jazz musician’s “starting five”, and he said – dig this - Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Bud Powell, Paul Chambers, and Elvin Jones or Tomy Williams. That’s one heck of a starting five, huh? For even more details on this event, go to the Jazz Museum in Harlem’s website at

As for the gig with McCoy, you will actually get to hear it at some point, as it was recorded by Half Note Records for a release sometime soon. Tain, Joe Lovano and myself had a great time playing with the man I’m appreciatively allowed to call “Homes” – West Philly’s own, McCoy Tyner. McCoy and I always have a great time talking about West Philly. Even though we’re some 35 years apart in age, some things about our old neighborhood have never changed! As for the gig, it’s always great playing with McCoy Tyner – a man who changed the sound of modern jazz piano. There’s the Bill Evans influence, then there’s the McCoy Tyner influence. I feel that there’s been a number of pianists who’ve built upon that Bill Evans influence such as Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett, but the minute you hear any pianist (even the ones I just mentioned) hit that root and fifth in the left hand, then come up the keyboard comping in fourths with machine-gun pentatonic runs in the right hand, there’s only ONE man you can indentify that with – McCoy. We all enjoyed the gig and were grateful to be there to bring in the new year with him.

What’s in store for 2007?

Who knows?

I played my first gig of 2007 with my man, Carl Allen, and his group at Sweet Ryhthm here in New York. It felt so good to swing with Carl, Vincent Herring, and Aaron Goldberg.

Other than continually building the Jazz Museum, and preparing another season at the Hollywood Bowl and Disney Hall, and still trying to make the CMB some money (heh-heh!), I look forward to making my triumphant return to the oldest, most storied jazz club ever, The Village Vanguard, this summer. Since I’m still waiting for the band to confirm their calendars, I won’t reveal who’s in the band yet, but if you’re in New York in the last week of June, come see a “Situation” at the Vanguard.

This is most writing I’ve done EVER! See you in March or April, probably. I’m going to go lay down for a while……

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