Mr. Christian McBride, a five-time Grammy Award-winning jazz bassist, named 2016 Philadelphia Jazz Appreciation Month Honoree.
One of the world’s most recorded jazz musicians today walked into Room 116 at City Hall and greeted me as if we were old friends who had fallen out of touch and were preparing to reconnect over lunch.
With a smile on his face and his hand extended, Mr. Christian McBride – a five-time Grammy Award-winning bassist who grew up in Philadelphia, graduated from the High School for the Creative and Performing Arts in 1989 and who now lives in Montclair, New Jersey – and I embraced, chatted a bit about music and movies – he’s excited about Mr. Don Cheadle’s impending portrayal of jazz trumpeter Mr. Miles Davis and he consulted on the James Brown biopic, ‘Get on Up,’ – and how governments are creating space to celebrate and elevate arts and culture.
Mr. McBride and I first met last year in November when he, for one-night-only in Center City Philadelphia at the Merriam Theater, put up ‘The Movement Revisited,’ a stunning showcase inclusive of a big band, a gospel choir and monologues all rooted around civil rights icons, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ms. Rosa Parks. Prior to the show, I moderated a panel on the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
Days later Mr. McBride and I, at the request of NPR Music, who was filming a documentary around the show, shot a segment wherein we drove up Broad Street remarking on all the buildings and spaces used for civil rights and ended up at the Uptown Theater in North Philadelphia, one of Mr. McBride’s favorite Philadelphia locations, a place where his father, also a famous bassist, performed (the segment was left on the cutting room floor).
This afternoon, Mr. McBride, who in Middle School chose to play the trombone before realizing he wasn’t quite good at it, was in town not to perform, but to be celebrated by the Mayor of Philadelphia and others for all his accomplishments, including the critically-acclaimed musical he directed in November.
The Mayor’s Reception Room was crowded with paparazzi and spectators who were all aiming to get a picture of Mr. McBride, who was presented to the public as the 2016 Philadelphia Jazz Appreciation Month Honoree.
Also honored today were Clef Club of Jazz executives Mr. Don Gardner and Mr. Lovett Hines, who taught Mr. McBride years ago. One of the main scenes of the NPR Music documentary is Mr. McBride interviewing Mr. Hines about the proverbial good ole days.
“I don’t think in life anyone ever achieves any degree of success without a support system,” Mr. McBride said, publicly honoring first his mother, who ran up and gave him a kiss, then Mr. Hines, who came up to the lectern and shook Mr. McBride’s hand.
Mr. McBride, who’s a DJ on the side, moved out of Philly more than two decades ago, but his “Philly stripes are very strong.”
“No matter where I am in the world, people associate me with Philadelphia,” he said.
Mayor Kenney said Mr. McBride portrays Philadelphia for all the good it represents.
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