"The true reward was making the CD, and getting people out to hear the project,” said jazz bass player Christian McBride when I asked about his second album for Mack Avenue Records “The Good Feeling” getting a Grammy nomination for best jazz album.
Our telephone chat took place a few weeks after "The Good Feeling" was nominated. McBride was fresh off a tour of Europe with saxophone player Maceo Parker. I picked McBride’s brain about making “The Good Feeling”.
How did the project come about?
The stars were truly aligned. We played at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in New York, and we all went into the studio after that. We used the Dizzy’s hit as a rehearsal for most of the material we played on the “The Good Feeling”.
In this economy, how hard is it pulling off a big band project?
Fortunately, I have guys in the band who understand the economics of a big band, so they never try to stick me up for money. If you offer them whatever you can they are really cool about it. It helps to have musicians on your side in that way.
You hired some heavy hitters Steve Wilson, Ron Blake, and Xavier Davis for example. Were there any ego issues?
Fortunately, that was never an issue. The guys on the album were highly professional. They were never any ego flare ups at all. I’m always sensitive to that kind of thing because some of these guys have been around for a lot of years, and have done lots of projects on their own, and they like to be treated as such. I’ve been fortunate with my big band nobody has ever given me trouble along those lines.
There’s no one guy hogging all the solo space.
Any projects I’ve done I leave room for cats to do their thing. That’s what it’s all about. Nobody wants to hear bass solos all night long. Who wants to hear any one instruments hog up all the solo time? That’s why I think Miles Davis was so great. He had an on ego, but his thing was letting guys stretch out. So, if Miles could do it other bandleaders like myself have no excuses.
Was Mack Avenue Records supportive of the project?
They initiated it. I so appreciate my time on Mack Avenue. They have people I worked with when I was on another labels guys like Randall Kennedy. I worked with him when I was on Warner Brothers. And of course, Al Pryor used to be at Sony in the 90’s.
How do you rank yourself among jazz bass player?
That’s for jazz critics to decide. I wouldn’t really want to get into that, ranking myself. You know, you can only try to be the best of your time. Ray Brown was the best of his time. Ron Carter was the best of his time. I think that’s all you can strive to be is among the best of your time.
“The Good Feeling” won the Grammy for best jazz album.