Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Christian McBride Stands Alone

By Michael Henningsen

JUNE 29, 1998:  "I feel very fortunate to work as often as I do with the same band," says Charles Mingus' prodigy Christian McBride. "With each gig we do, we get tighter and tighter, like we're becoming one person. And what's so nice," he continues, "is that our friendship off stage comes through on stage." The band McBride is referring to is his own quartet, which features saxophonist Tim Warfield, pianist Anthony Wonsey and drummer Carl Allen, all of whom have joined the young bassist on stage countless times as well as on his latest Verve release, A Family Affair. The record is subtle and eloquent, much like McBride's bass work. And like Charles Mingus, to whom he is oft compared, McBride's musical palette is splashed with tints and hues that extend far beyond the rainbow spectrum of swing and bebop. His remarkable range and ability afford his playing a transcendent notion, prompting critics and casual jazz fans alike to hail him as a leader among a narrow field of exceptional players who move effortlessly between the instrument's acoustic and electric realms.

And those same traits that have catapulted McBride to the pinnacle of the jazz bass camp have made him capable of playing a major role in ensemble with any number of heavy hitters. Prior to leading his own band, the young bassist worked with Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Green, Pat Metheny and, most recently, Joshua Redman.

McBride is easily one of the most soulful bassists of the current generation, clearly evidenced on his latest record. There's a depth to his playing that goes beyond pure complexity, making his music astoundingly accessible while still echoing the intricacies of tradition that govern jazz. Christian McBride is not to be missed.?

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