PSU Jazz Virtual Series: Christian McBride

Wednesday, January 20, 2021 - 3:00 PM - 3:50 PM
Location
Cost / Admission
Free and open to the public
Contact

Sherry Alves
alves4@pdx.edu

Join the Portland State University Jazz Area for our weekly PSU Jazz Virtual Series. Each week features a world class artist engaging in lecture and conversation with students and faculty.

Follow Portland State University on Facebook to receive notification when the page goes Live. https://www.facebook.com/psujazz

Raised in a city steeped in soul, McBride moved to New York in 1989 to pursue classical studies at the Juilliard School. There he was promptly recruited to the road by saxophonist Bobby Watson. Call it a change in curriculum: a decade’s worth of study through hundreds of recording sessions and countless gigs with an ever-expanding circle of musicians. He was finding his voice, and others were learning to listen for it.

In 2000 the lessons of the road came together in the formation of what would become his longest-running project, the Christian McBride Band. Praised by writer Alan Leeds as "one of the most intoxicating, least predictable bands on the scene today," the CMB—saxophonist Ron Blake, keyboardist Geoffrey Keezer, and drummer Terreon Gully—have been collectively evolving McBride's all-inclusive, forward-thinking outlook on music through their incendiary live shows, as chronicled on 2006’s Live at Tonic. Part excursion, part education, the CMB is a vehicle built on a framework of experience and powered by unfettered creativity: a mesmerizing dance on the edge of an electro-acoustic fault line.

In 2009 McBride began focusing this same energy through a more traditional lens with the debut of his critically-acclaimed Inside Straight quintet, and again with the Christian McBride Big Band, whose 2012 release The Good Feeling won the GRAMMY for Best Large Ensemble Jazz Album. As his career entered its third decade, McBride added the role of mentor, tapping rising stars pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. for the Christian McBride Trio’s GRAMMY-nominated album  Out Here.

He is also a respected educator and advocate, first noted in 1997 when he spoke on former President Bill Clinton's town hall meeting "Racism in the Performing Arts." He has since been named Artistic Director of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Sessions (2000), co-director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem (2005), and the Second Creative Chair for Jazz of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (2005).

In 1998 he combined roles, composing "The Movement, Revisited," a four-movement suite dedicated to four of the major figures of the civil rights movement: Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The piece was commissioned by the Portland (ME) Arts Society and the National Endowment for the Arts, and performed throughout New England in the fall of 1998 with McBride's quartet and a 30-piece gospel choir. For its tenth anniversary, "The Movement, Revisited" was expanded, rewritten, and revamped to feature an 18-piece big band and four actors/speakers in addition to the gospel choir. It was performed in Los Angeles at Walt Disney Concert Hall, and praised by the Los Angeles Times as "a work that was admirable—to paraphrase Dr. King—for both the content of its music and the character of its message."

Currently he hosts and produces “The Lowdown: Conversations With Christian” on SiriusXM satellite radio and National Public Radio’s “Jazz Night in America,” a weekly radio show and multimedia collaboration between WBGO, NPR and Jazz at Lincoln Center, showcasing outstanding live jazz from across the country. With his staggering body of work, McBride is the ideal host, drawing on history, experience, and a gift for storytelling to bridge the gap between artist, music, and audience. He brings that same breadth of experience to bear as Artistic Advisor for Jazz Programming at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC).

Christian McBride headshot

Upcoming events

PSU Jazz Virtual Series: Vanessa Rubin

Join the Portland State University Jazz Area for our weekly PSU Jazz…
Add to my Calendar 2021-01-27 15:00:00 2021-01-27 15:50:00 PSU Jazz Virtual Series: Vanessa Rubin Join the Portland State University Jazz Area for our weekly PSU Jazz Virtual Series. Each week features a world class artist engaging in lecture and conversation with students and faculty. Follow Portland State University on Facebook to receive notification when the page goes Live. https://www.facebook.com/psujazz Revered as both a torchbearer and a storyteller, jazz vocalist Vanessa Rubin possesses a voice hailed for crystalline clarity, hearth-like warmth and playful lioness sass. The Cleveland native brings a wealth of diverse influences to her vocal performance from both the Trinidadian/Caribbean roots of her mother and traditional jazz by way of her Louisiana-born father. Additional homespun influences include the melodic bell tone clarity of a young Capital Records recording artist, Nancy Wilson, the fire of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, the sweet sounds of trumpeter Blue Mitchell as well as her love of the Motown Sound…especially girl groups like the Supremes. Rubin’s passion for rich musical stories are evidenced throughout her eight albums thus far plus numerous guest appearances. Highlights include the evocative “Voyager II” from the pen of Teri Thornton, “Inside a Silent Tear” written by Blossom Dearie, a refashioned waltz version of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” lyricized by New York Voices and an arrangement of “Superwoman” by Stevie Wonder inspired by the Ahmad Jamal recording of “Poinciana”. So while she has one foot planted in tradition – sticking close to timeless melodies and exquisite vocal forms – Rubin waxes adventurous, embracing stories lesser told while employing lessons of acclaimed storytellers in song such as Carmen McRae, Shirley Horn and Freddy Cole. “They mastered the art of believability”, Rubin asserts. Additionally, Rubin continues to back her way into The Blues with an urgent appreciation for soulful mentors like Etta Jones and Irene Reid. Also among her current endeavors is highlighting and interpreting well known, obscure and new lyrical works of composer/arranger/pianist Tadd Dameron. “I hope to do for Tadd’s music what Carmen McRae did for Monk’s music”, Rubin explained. Vanessa’s journey to becoming a jazz singer could be said to have begun at an early age. She was characterized by her mother as always being “a very vocal child,” and knew Vanessa would, “do something with that big ol’ mouth of hers.” Coming from parents who valued academia, discipline and hard work, that “something” was meant to be law school. Attaining a BA from The Ohio State School of Journalism in 1979 was not a disappointment. However, her decision to pursue a career jazz singing did come as a surprise. Vanessa’s fascination with language coupled with her passion for music, especially jazz, pointed her on a collision course toward jazz performance. Her “a-ha” moment came during a college beauty pageant at which Vanessa was accompanied by a very young, and even then, a very capable Bobby Floyd of Columbus, Ohio. Her first performance of a jazz evergreen, the Billie Holiday original “God Bless The Child,” garnered both rousing applause and the winning talent award. Most importantly though, it awakened what Vanessa describes as “her calling.” “I fell in love with the moment, the music, the audience and the effect it had on them and me,” Rubin remembers. Vanessa’s first gigs began around 1980 in small clubs around Cleveland such as Tucker’s Place, Bob’s Toast of the Town, Lancer’s Steak House, Club Isabella, The Native Son and The Teal Lounge. Some early band mates included Wynn Bibbs, Skip Gibson, saxophonist and arranger Willie Smith, Neal Creque, Matthew “Chink” Stevenson and, later, the uniquely soulful organ quartet of The Blackshaw Brothers with Cecil Rucker on vibes. “We worked 8 days a week all over Cleveland catching the tail end of what was left over from the good old days,” Rubin recalls. After two years, Rubin was anxious to set her sights on New York where she earnestly and humbly soaked up the tutelage of many veterans like Pharaoh Sanders, Frank Foster and Barry Harris. In 1992, Rubin signed to Novus/RCA Records recording five albums, three of which reached #1 at radio. Her debut recording Soul Eyes (1992) was produced by the venerable Onaje Allen Gumbs. Her sophomore recording, Pastiche (1993) showed off her horn like abilities interacting with an all-star sextet which included jazz legends Frank Foster and Cecil Bridgewater. I’m Glad There is You, A Tribute to Carmen McRae (1994) followed, finding Vanessa couched in beautiful string arrangements with jazz luminaries Kenny Burrell and Grover Washington. Her fourth release Vanessa Rubin Sings (1995) was intimately guitar based. It was easy to see Vanessa flourished on Novus with the muscle of parent company RCA Records behind her. However, when the Novus label folded between her fourth and fifth recording option, Vanessa was invited to stay on at RCA to record her fifth album, New Horizons (1997) – a new more contemporary sound. This move, predictably, was not heralded by her jazz base but gained her a new audience with smooth jazz/NAC fans. She next recorded two mainstream CDs for Telarc Jazz: Language of Love (1999) and Girl Talk (2001). Full Circle (Creative Perspective Music – 2013), her most recent release, is a joint project of Vanessa Rubin and saxophonist Don Braden, both of whom are from the Midwest and share a deep appreciation for the Hammond B3. Rubin has also grown to recognize the importance and advantage of writing. “When it comes to finding your style and sound, it helps to have your own stories.” she shares. “And in order to do that, you just have to live! I’ve always been conscientious about my choice of repertoire. Even more so now. I need something substantive and honest to sing.” A turning point was composing her first original, “No Strings Attached”. Other originals by Rubin featured on her recordings are “Once Was Not Enough”, “If You Ever Go Away” and “Are You Ready For Me?” She also penned the first set of lyrics to Frank Foster’s “Simone”, Wayne Shorter’s “Speak No Evil” (vocally re-titled “All For One”) and Tadd Dameron’s “The Dream Is You” (vocally re-titled “Reveries Do Come True”). That singing jazz would lead to acting was in no way a strange transition for Vanessa Rubin. “We are all actresses,” Rubin remembers from a conversation with Carmen McRae. “I’ve gotta have some drama,” shared in another coveted conversation with Nancy Wilson. Both celebrated veterans ventured into acting for television and film. In their emboldened footsteps, Rubin has enjoyed for several years now performing the play “Yesterdays: An Evening with Billie Holiday” written by Renee Upchurch and directed by Mr. Woodie King Jr. This one woman show about the life and music of the most legendary of jazz vocal immortals netted Ms. Rubin a 2011 nomination for a Kevin Klein Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical. Rubin continues to be a favorite at jazz clubs and festivals here in the US and abroad. Her work as a producer and educator/clinician with youth in communities as well as in educational institutions worldwide is ongoing. “I understand now that my career is a calling,” Vanessa concludes. “I do it not only because I want to…but because I have to. A lot is bubbling just beneath the surface…and I am no longer afraid to be naked.”   Facebook Live https://fb.me/e/3eLzAZf8b Sherry Alves alves4@pdx.edu Sherry Alves alves4@pdx.edu America/Los_Angeles public

African American Musical Studies & Women in Classical Music

Dr. Nicole Cherry is Assistant Professor of Violin at The University of…
Add to my Calendar 2021-01-27 17:00:00 2021-01-27 18:00:00 African American Musical Studies & Women in Classical Music Dr. Nicole Cherry is Assistant Professor of Violin at The University of Texas at San Antonio and second violinist of the award-winning Marian Anderson String Quartet. 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Dr. Cherry received her Bachelor of Music degree from University of Maryland and completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Texas Tech University where she studied with Annie Chalex Boyle. Dr. Cherry has also received graduate fellowships from the Peabody Institute of Music and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. Dr. Cherry has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician in such venues as the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, Strathmore Hall, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. She has performed in Europe, the Middle East and Asia including a tour as a featured soloist in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and South Africa. 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