Christian McBride is one of the pillars of modern jazz education, presentation and origination.
As we have seen in recent months, getting the lowdown — the real facts about something — is harder than ever. The line between opinion and facts has blurred to the point of being non-existent. This is not a left or right issue or limited to politics. It is everywhere. The pace of the information flow is fast, mostly unchecked and there is virtually no penalty for being wrong.
But there are still people out there who can give you the true lowdown on various subjects. On SiriusXM’s Real Jazz channel (on Saturday afternoons and repeated during the ensuing week), there is a show called “The Lowdown; Conversations with Christian McBride.” Rarely do I miss the show. The format is simple. Christian invites a musician to join him for an hour. They talk, perform and share stories. At the end of each session, Christian gives him or her a quiz. The test can be about sports, identifying musicians performing on recordings or creating a tune based upon a mood or suggestion. Identifying the musicians is my favorite. It teaches me what to listen to when I play that same game while listening to music.
Identifying musicians, particularly instrumentalists, is a real skill. Sorting out vocalists is much easier, but I still get fooled often. Parsing the female vocalists can be dicey. Voices in the upper octaves seem to have less definition. I am sure that I will be lambasted for this observation.
Back to Christian McBride. On his show, he probes his guests with respect, interest and adoration. Though he includes his own take on matters, Christian rarely, if at all, makes the show about him. There are so many interview shows on radio and television where you ask yourself why does the person even have guests. They just ramble about themselves using the guests as props or foils. It’s hard to take and even harder to explain.
Like a good point guard, Christian sets up the play and then allows the guest to finish. With ever so subtle leading comments and questions, he is able to elicit the most interesting stories and insights while making sure that the guest is treated well and always looks good. No cheap shots. Never. There is a lot of joking going on during the show, but none of it at the expense of the guest. Like a wise man once told me, the only safe joke is one about yourself. Christian is very comfortable poking fun at himself.
Why not! He is a giant in the field of jazz. Universally respected and liked, Christian is one of the pillars of modern jazz education, presentation and origination. Having the ability to perform at the highest levels and to communicate with the listeners in a meaningful, yet accessible, manner is rare. It is not a gift. It is a calling and a mission. It takes work and dedication. But, most importantly, Christian embodies the qualities that make jazz the special musical genre that it is.
The future of any genre, movement or cause is inextricably tied to the gravitas and quality of its leaders. Christian is one of a handful of dominant musicians who possess the drive and the spirit to keep jazz going. And, do not forget that possessing world-class chops is a “must have” to even be considered for the role of leader. First and foremost, he is a great player.
More proof of that is in Christian’s most recent album, “The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons.” Showcasing his ever-sharpening skills as a composer, arranger, conductor, musician and lyricist, the album lauds four key figures of the Civil Rights Movement: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali. Click here for more information and to purchase the album.
Look for a lot more of Christian on our upcoming jazz cruises and programs. Having him in our corner will expand our ability to provide our guests with the very best in jazz music and entertainment. Very cool.
Our Take is written by Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of The Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea. Feel free to express your views or pose questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MARCUS MILLER: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!!! The Smooth Jazz Cruise Holiday Show
Will Be Available Starting December 18!
It has been awhile since Marcus Miller has been “Home for the Holidays!” Now, he is as busy as ever with movie projects, recording and a new video about the evolution of jazz. But he, and his good buddy Comic Alonzo Bodden, who can be seen and heard almost everywhere these days, will be sharing some Holiday Cheer at Marcus’ house, starting at 4 p.m. ET on Friday, December 18! Your “invitation” will be good through Sunday, January 3, at midnight.
Though they have a lot to catch up on with each other, these two stars are always reaching out to our jazz family, so don’t be surprised when these folks “pop in” to Marcus’ home for a visit.
Scheduled to Appear:
David Sanborn • Brian Culbertson • Boney James
Candy Dulfer • Kirk Whalum • Jonathan Butler
Peter White • Nick Colionne • Eric Darius DW3 • Eric Marienthal • Paul Jackson Jr. • Grace Kelly
Larry Braggs • Patrice Rushen • Randy Jacobs • Nate Kearney
Third Richardson • Jay Williams • Omari Williams
Lamar Jones • Arlington Jones • Kevin Turner • Munyungo Jackson
Other great musicians and personalities will be popping in as well. We will update our list as time goes by. They all want to say “Happy Holidays” to our great fans.
Be ready for a holiday experience like no other … you are invited to spend the holidays with Marcus and Alonzo at Marcus’ house. After all, Marcus is Home for the Holidays! Now that is one huge Open House!
By the way, did we tell you that this 2.5+ hour show is a “gift” from Entertainment Cruise Productions and all of the artists performing? Yes, 2020 has been a difficult year so we want to give you the very best gift we could … music and good cheer from the stars of The Smooth Jazz Cruise! Stay tuned for more information.
SAVE THE DATE: WEDNESDAY, NOV. 11 LIVE Q&A with Wycliffe Gordon
The next episode of The Jazz Cruise: Conversations LIVE will feature one of the most respected, accomplished and prolific musicians in our jazz cruise family — Wycliffe Gordon.
The trombonist and occasional singer fits in seamlessly and elevates the music in just about any configuration of artists possible. Thanks to the amazing direction of Wycliffe, the Gospel Hour show that started on The Jazz Cruise has become so popular and memorable that it’s a Sunday morning staple on all of our jazz cruises.
Wycliffe’s versatility, personality and passion for sharing great music with great jazz fans is the reason why he has sailed and performed on every program we have produced.
In a LIVE Q&A with you hosted by SiriusXM Real Jazz Host Eulis Cathey, you will quickly learn why we love Wycliffe so much. The fun starts at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on Wednesday, November 11, when The Jazz Cruise: Conversations LIVE streams direct to you on Facebook and YouTube:
Click here to save the date and watch on The Jazz Cruise’s Facebook page.
Click here to subscribe to and watch on The Jazz Cruise’s YouTube channel.
BACKSTORIES with John Clayton
John Clayton has joined the many jazz musicians who are getting creative in offering music and conversation via live streams and posts while we await the return of live music.
John has started a weekly series he calls BACKSTORIES, in which he’ll present a music track that has special meaning to him and he’ll share the backstory to let you know why. He’s posting a story each week on his Facebook page. We’ll also be sharing the post on The Jazz Cruise’s Facebook page if you want to read his musings on legendary artists and recordings he’s known.