The McBride Diaries (Vol.22)
Posted on 3/22/2007at 5:37 AM
Well, for starters, I'm having a hard time grasping the fact that we're already seven years into the 21st century! 1997 was TEN years ago?? Jeez....
2007 has been very nice, so far. I started off the year (technically) at Yoshi's with McCoy Tyner. I already mentioned in an earlier post how wonderful that gig was. After that, I had the distinct honor of interviewing the one and only Mr. Roy Haynes at the IAJE convention this year. I must say, I really feel like Roy and I have a special bond. We have a lot of fun together. I feel like had I been born in another lifetime, Roy Haynes and I would have hit the streets together! It reminds me of the time, about three years ago, we played in Chicago at Symphony Center. Roy says to me, "One of my old buddies is coming to the gig tonight. You've gotta meet him, McBride. He used to be a gangster." Inquisitively, I said, "Ok." Later that night, I met this brother Roy was talking about. I sadly can't remember his name. Roy says to me, "MAC-Bride, this is my man I was telling you about. He still sleeps with a gun under his pillow!" This might sound funny, but I was flattered that Roy would be so excited about introducing me to his old gangster friend. Then, not too long after that gig, we were going to Washington DC to play the Kennedy Center. The night before, we played in Burlington, VT, and Roy said to me again, "McBride, I got some cats I want to introduce you to tomorrow night in DC." Once again, I said, "OK." The following day, as our limo pulled in front of the posh, grand, and stately Mandarin Oriental hotel, three of the hippest looking old-school street hustlers were standing in the front. As Roy gets out of the limo, they all greet Roy with a gruff, loud, "HEY, M&$^(#) F@)(#&^!!! WHAT'S HAPPENIN', BABY???" As they all give each other the "soul" handshake, the brother with the red velvet apple jack (with coat to match, by the way) says to me, "HEY! There's MAC-Bride!!" Then, all of Roy's friends start giving ME soul shakes! HILARIOUS!! These cats came EVERYWHERE with us - to the soundcheck, to the gig, back to the hotel after the gig for drinks, etc, etc. When I called home and told Melissa this story, she says to me, "Roy introduced you to his friends because he knows you're an old soul. Plus, that's how YOU'RE going to be when you're in your 70's!!!!" I'm not sure if that's good or not. Then again, Melissa's already told me I'm like a mixture of Fred Sanford and George Jefferson. Uh-oh......:-)
After IAJE, I headed out to LA to start a series of performances for the LA Philharmonic. The first concert was a very, very special one - an all-star tribute to Horace Silver. As musical director, I got some of Mr. Silver's most illustrious alumni to come and participate - Charles Tolliver, Randy Brecker, Tom Harrell, George Coleman, Bennie Maupin, Andy Bey, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Roger Humphries. On this night, Cedar Walton played the role as Horace Silver, and Joe Lovano added quite a special voice as well. It was a tremendous occasion as Mr. Silver, who's suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, was there to enjoy his night. Horace Silver is a man who's music never, ever "left home". His music was always highly sophisticated and intelligent, but it was ALWAYS funky! May we all thank Mr. Horace Silver.
The following week, I participated in two children's concerts with Joana Carniero and the LA Philharmonic. This was a production, man! I'm talking about script writers, lighting directors, drama coaches (Debbie Devine, no less!!), orchestral arrangements and everything! Listen here, I think Joana and I should be up for Tony awards this year! It seemed that everyone from the orchestra to the LA Philharmonic staff to the parents and children who were in attendance enjoyed the production. The theme of our concert was "Jazz and the Orchestra", and how the two work very well together. It was fantastic. COMING TO BROADWAY IN 2008!!! Ha-Ha!:-)
After the two children's concerts, I got to play a free concert at Phoenix Hall which is at the Watts Towers Arts Center. That was deeply special for me on a personal level as it's rare that people not in more affluent neighborhoods get to hear good live music these days. I must give major, major dap to the LA Philharmonic for such a wonderful program. They really seem to make sure everyone in LA hears the music. I was joined by some of my favorite LA brethren - Clayton Cameron on drums, Rickey Woodard on saxophones, and the young monster, Gerald Clayton on fender rhodes. It was a great day. I got to see a lot of my LA "family".
After my LA Phil shows, I shot up to Seattle to play a rather poorly attended show at the Experience Music Project museum with a "Situation". I don't mind if a show is poorly attended, as long as the people there dig it, and the promoters don't get too uptight! This particular "situation" included Ron, David Gilmore, DJ Logic, and Matt Chamberlain on drums. It was my first time getting to meet AND play with Matt. One thing I really like about my "situations" is that it allows me to play with some musicians I've always wanted to play with. Matt did a hell of a job. I'm quite sure we'll cross paths again soon. Since there was such a "let's go for it" type of attitude among all the cats in the band that night, are you ready for this? I got up enough nerve to play the PIANO!!! The show opened with Ron and I playing a duet (am I nuts??) of my "Lullaby For a Ladybug."
Next, I headed back to LA to do a recording session with the one and only Miss Dana Owens - aka QUEEN LATIFAH. Yes, I played on her upcoming jazz CD. Now, I heard her first one, "The Dana Owens Album" in which she sang a gorgeous version of "Lush Life" - arguably the hardest song any vocalist could sing. Lore has it that only the most equipped, most experienced ears can even attempt singing that song. When I told Miss Owens that, she replied, "Really? That's funny. It wasn't that hard for me!" But you really had to hear the genuine innocent and honest tone in which she said it. It was so great. She wasn't grandstanding at all. Mind you, this isn't a woman who spent her life listening to Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, and Ella Fitzgerald. She spent her early years redefining RAP!!! I found her to be one of the coolest, most regular, most chill people I've ever worked with. No quirks whatsoever - and that's RARE for a female vocalist. (Sorry, Melissa!) Tommy LiPuma produced it, along with some big band arrangements by my "big brother", John Clayton. The best part of the whole deal is that I think, I hope, maybe, that I'll be working with Miss Owens at the Hollywood Bowl this summer. I think. I hope. Maybe. Not sure. Possibly. I don't know.......we'll see.
Next, I headed down the 405 to the O.C. (I'm really sounding like a west coast guy.) The "O.C." is Orange County. Costa Mesa to be exact. I played a show with the legendary vocalist/pianist/composer, Ivan Lins. Terence Blanchard, The New York Voices and I were his special guests at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. This was yet another special moment for me, as Mr. Lins is truly a legend. The audience was FILLED with people who've followed his music for years. At some point during the concert, people started singing one of his songs in Portuguese while he was trying to announce something. It was awesome. It was particularly great to play with his drummer, the also legendary Teo Lima. He's like the Brazilian Max Roach. I hope to play with Ivan again.
I then headed BACK up the 405 (to the 101) to play with my pal, Terri Lyne Carrington. She just completed an absolutely KILLIN' project with George Duke, Nancy Wilson, Kirk Whalum, Ray Fuller, and some other funky folk. (I don't know who else played on the date) Robert Irving III, the keyboardist from Miles Davis's 1980's bands produced the CD. Look out for that one.
I finally went back to the east coast for, like, five days before I headed up to the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho. (As I write this, I'm realizing how much time I spend on the west coast these days.) This year, John Clayton takes over the festival as Artistic Director after having been directed for the last 30 years by Lynn "Doc" Skinner - easily the most lovable man in jazz. I've always likened "Doc" to a college basketball coach. He's always so eager and hype, but tremendously loving and caring and genuinely excited about having the cats around. We love him very much and wish him well in his retirement. As usual, the festival had a heavy lineup - Roy Hargrove, Monty Alexander, James Morrison, Dee Daniels, The Clayton Brothers, and many, many others. Too many people to name. I played in the "house" rhythm section with Benny Green, Russell Malone, and Jeff Hamilton.
Guess where I went after Idaho? That's right, back to LA....
I went to LA to record with another old pal, Chris Botti. As always, fun times are abundant when the "Oregon Flash" and I hook up. I remember when Chris and I were co-bandleaders for one episode of the "Caroline Rhea Show." Maybe that'll show up on YouTube or the Museum of TV and Radio one day. Billy Childs, Dean Parks, Vinny Colaiuta, Gil Goldstein, and Paula Cole are just some of the musicians who participated on Chris's date.
NOW can I come back to New York?? (Not QUIIITTTE yet....but you're getting closer)
I hooked up with THE cats, The CMB, in Boston after my long west coast trip. Playing with Ron, Keezer and Terreon was like getting a straight B-12 shot! Now let's get something straight, I love LA. I really do. But coming off the plane to 10-degree weather is what I LOVE, baby! It keeps you on your toes, you know? It gives the music an edge! And you can't get much more edge than Ron, Keezer and Terreon. Those two nights were right on. It's about time we start thinking about another recording, huh?
After Boston, came a "Situation" gig at the Kennedy Center. It was two of the usual suspects - Ron and David Gilmore - but I had two new "Situation" mates, Robert "Mousey" Thompson on drums and Frederic Yonnet on harmonica. Mousey, of course, is my close friend from James Brown's band. All these years we've been hanging out, we've never played together except for a quick, two minute jam at James Brown's 64th birthday bash. But we don't count that. There were way too many people onstage that night. Mousey introduced me to Frederic, and he sounded great. This particular "situation" was a very good one! We'll see what happens....
Guss where I went after that?
Man, when I got home, I just rode the subway for a couple of hours! Just because I missed it, you know? Ain't nothing like the Big Apple. I think that's why I'm such a "Law & Order" addict. It's STRAIGHT New York!
You can find me up at the Jazz Museum in Harlem these next few months. As you can see on the gigs page, I'll be in my home area for a minute.