Today, 8-time GRAMMY® Award winner Christian McBride has released Prime, the second album from his quartet the New Jawn. Prime reflects the influence of the masters McBride has studied under throughout his remarkable career, even as it reconfirms his place in the pantheon of today’s living legends of jazz. The album is out now via McBride’s Brother Mister imprint on Mack Avenue Music Group, and is currently available for purchase / download.
McBride recently shared the studio recording video for the track “Head Bedlam,” a selection that opens the album with a series of dazzlingly chaotic runs before settling into a robust funk groove. The studio recording for title track “Prime” was subsequently released.
In addition to receiving his sixteenth GRAMMY nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Album last year, McBride also swept DownBeat’s 2022 Readers Poll, winning the Artist of the Year, Bassist of the Year, and Producer of the Year categories. He also secured additional accolades at the inaugural Jazz Music Awards, winning in the Best Mainstream Artist and Best Duo, Group, or Band categories (with his group Inside Straight).
McBride is an elder statesman ahead of his time, possessed of the gravitas and renown expected of that title, yet he’s rarely conservative in his work, constantly looking beyond the next creative horizon. Uniquely for someone who has increasingly become the face of the genre, McBride has adamantly resisted the role of gatekeeper, refusing to adhere to strict definitions of what constitutes “jazz.”
Instead he has channeled his wealth of influences and experiences into his own music and continues to seek out the next chapter in its ongoing evolution, while serving as a model of ambitious diversity for those seeking to define it.
Prime exemplifies jazz greats at the zenith of their powers who insist on scaling greater heights. The New Jawn – McBride, trumpeter Josh Evans, saxophonist and bass clarinetist Marcus Strickland, and drummer Nasheet Waits – has managed to maintain a sense of freshness and daring that evokes the thrills of a group of brash upstarts, while navigating a wide spectrum of improvisational moods and daunting compositional challenges that could only be pulled off by four musicians of this unmatched caliber.
“I think that all of us are at our prime as musicians,” McBride said, explaining the album’s title, before slyly correcting himself. “No, I’ll think positive – we’re almost at our prime.”
That ambitious optimism is perhaps the key to McBride’s remarkable success. He clearly believes strongly that there’s always room for growth and more to achieve, regardless of the remarkable list of accomplishments that he’s already chalked up. At 50, the bassist and composer sits at the pinnacle of the jazz world, both a globally esteemed artist and a respected authority and advocate for the music.
Beyond his universally recognized virtuosity, McBride has won eight Grammy Awards, garnered acclaim for his poignant ode, The Movement, Revisited, and performed multiple times at the White House.
Beyond his own work he’s a tireless champion for jazz’s continued relevance through his work as Artistic Director of the Newport Jazz Festival, host of the NPR radio program Jazz Night in America, Artistic Director of the music education organizations Jazz House Kids and Jazz Aspen, Artistic Advisor for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and its TD James Moody Jazz Festival, and Associate Artistic Director for the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.
He is a living example of the torch-passing tradition of jazz, having worked and apprenticed with genre icons like Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, Milt Jackson, Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, and Ray Brown, as well as giants of R&B, rock, hip-hop, and classical music; while sharing that priceless experience with new generations through his work as a bandleader (rising stars who’ve risen through the ranks of his ensembles include vibraphonist Warren Wolf, pianist Christian Sands, and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr.) and as an educator.