The LONG BIRTH of a Movement

CHRISTIAN McBRIDE may very well be the hardest working man in jazz, a title that would certainly please him as a devoted James Brown historian and fan. Arguably the most accomplished bassist of the last 20 years, McBride leads numerous bands—including Tip City, New Jawn Quintet, Christian McBride Big Band, and the Christian McBride Trio—while still leaving time to tour with artists such as Pat Metheny and Chick Corea. He’s also the artistic director for the Newport Jazz Festival and Montclair Jazz Festival. A product himself of some stellar music education programs, McBride pays it forward by overseeing jazz education programs at Jazz House Kids and Jazz Aspen Snowmass. Like one of his mentors, Wynton Marsalis, McBride has become a champion for the music in the mainstream media, hosting the NPR program Jazz Night in America and the SiriusXM show The Lowdown: Conversations with Christian. We’ve likely missed other projects and roles, but isn’t that enough?

Given all those demands, you can well understand why his albums may take a while to get from germination to release. But his latest disc, The Movement Revisited, was a special case—and, as he explained in this conversation recorded recently on the Jazz Cruise, his own schedule was only part of the problem. Originally created in 1998, the project looks at the civil rights movement through the words of four icons in African-American culture: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali. With the help of gospel legend J.D. Steele, McBride composed and arranged music for a big band and gospel choir to accompany the words of these four very different people. The album is as compelling and powerful as the subjects themselves.

McBride hails from Philadelphia, known to its residents as Philly and never as the City of Brotherly Love. The legacy of that city is central to his outlook on music, culture, race, politics … and, of course, sports—there is no more avid Philly sports fan than Christian McBride, but that’s for another story and another time. story is about how and why he came to

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