SPOTLIGHT: Christian McBride

To describe Christian McBride as well-rounded or multi-faceted just doesn’t do the man justice. He’s been successful in so many different realms that it becomes nearly impossible to cover them all.

We can start with his gifts as a bassist, mentored by no less than Ray Brown. Christian, who also doubles on electric, is widely considered one of the music’s premier acoustic bassists, regularly recognized as such by the readers and critics polls of the jazz magazines. Those gifts make him an in-demand sideman and the list of jazz greats with whom he’s collaborated is long and storied, from Freddie Hubbard to Wynton Marsalis…from Chick Corea to Herbie Hancock…from Pat Metheny to Mike Stern…from Dianne Reeves to Dee Dee Bridgewater. He’s also appeared with numerous pop, rock and R&B stars including Sting, Queen Latifah and Bruce Hornsby, just to name a few.

Like his mentors Corea and Metheny, Christian somehow manages to lead multiple bands simultaneously. He records and tours with the New Jawn Quartet, his Trio, his Big Band and Inside Straight, with whom he’ll be performing on Blue Note at Sea (and The Jazz Cruise) in 2023. This spring he’s reuniting for a tour with Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau and Brian Blade, a group that features four acclaimed bandleaders.

Christian is also a talented composer whose songs have always graced his and others’ recordings. His most recent tour de force, The Movement Revisited, combined jazz, gospel and spoken word to portray the impact of four icons of the Civil Rights Movement—Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcom X and Muhammad Ali.

Although he dropped out of Juilliard (sorry, Mom) to tour with Bobby Watson, Christian is committed to jazz education, not only through his co-founding of the Jazz House Kids organization, but also through his work at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Colony and other jazz education programs. Just as Wynton Marsalis mentored him when he was only a teenager, so too has Christian been a guiding light for musicians of several generations, including Jazz Cruises favorites such as Warren Wolf, Christian Sands and Emmet Cohen.

Having a solid grasp on the music’s past, present and future makes his role as artistic director for numerous jazz festivals and programs an obvious choice. Christian has curated jazz programming at the Newport Jazz Festival, Montclair Jazz Festival, NJPAC, LA Philharmonic and National Jazz Museum in Harlem, amongst others.

Like one of his mentors Dr. Billy Taylor, Christian’s intellect and ability to communicate about the music has also made him an in-demand broadcaster. He hosts and produces “Jazz Night in America” for NPR, as well as hosts “The Lowdown: Conversations With Christian” on SiriusXM. You can be sure that we’ll be utilizing his talents as an interviewer on Blue Note at Sea and The Jazz Cruise. He’s applied that same skill set to the print media as well, writing pieces for magazines and newspapers, like this recent tribute to his friend and mentor Chick Corea.

Did you know that he’s also an accomplished DJ?  As DJ Brother Mister (a tip of the hat to his idol James Brown), Christian spins jazz, funk, R&B, soul and just about anything that grooves, often playing along on electric bass. He’s able to pull that off in part because he’s truly a musicologist, as well versed in the history of jazz as in the roots of funk and soul. And also because he’s got that certain charisma that you can’t teach.

To sum it up: Bassist, sideman, bandleader, composer, educator, mentor, artistic director, broadcaster, writer, DJ and musicologist. (Space doesn’t allow us to talk about his passion for sports and comedy.)  Winner of the 2017 Bruce Lundvall Visionary Award, Christian is a true champion of the music. An artist who walks the walk and talks the talk. That’s why we’re honored to have him sailing with us back-to-back on Blue Note at Sea and The Jazz Cruise in 2023.

Christian visited the office of Jazz Cruises, specifically to invite YOU to sail with him, plus Marcus, Alonzo, Robert Glasper, Chris Botti, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Sheila E., Brad Mehldau, Christian Scott, The Baylor Project, Damien Escobar and many more stars on Blue Note at Sea ’23You’ll enjoy 7-days of non-stop music on the Main Stage, plus other intimate lounge shows and late-night jam sessions with unpredictable collaborations. Click to watch the video message from Christian. Then check out the rest of the website for all the details on the luxury cruise ship, first class food, service and accommodations, plus pricing, payment plans, deck plans, ports of call and additional cruise details that will help you start your reservation.

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