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2019 Chicago Jazz Festival Preview: Christian McBride’s New Jawn

By Hrayr Attarian

Photo of Christian McBride by R. Andrew Lepley

In addition to being a virtuosic bassist, Christian McBride is an innovative and brilliant composer and bandleader. Over a career spanning about a quarter century and fifteen albums as a leader, McBride has produced his unique brand of bop-based jazz with panache and elegance. His ensembles have ranged from a trio to an eighteen-piece orchestra, and he has explored both acoustic as well as fusionesque electric instrumentation. What has remained constant is his superlative musicianship and his refreshingly relevant spontaneity.

On Saturday, August 31, McBride brings his pianoless quartet, New Jawn, to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion as part of the 2019 Chicago Jazz Festival. Judging by the eponymous 2018 release on Mack Avenue Records, the combo’s sound has a soulful character with plenty of funk-based grooves—as well as a hefty dose of intelligent and inventive improvisations. Joining McBride are three superbly accomplished artists: saxophonist Marcus Strickland, trumpeter Josh Evans and drummer Nasheet Waits.

Strickland is no stranger to genre bending as his explorative albums demonstrate. He has successfully experimented with blending jazz and Afrobeat as well as hip-hop. Waits contributes his signature fluid and impressionistic style to the collective. Contemplative and sophisticated, Waits also has played with a wide range of extemporizers that includes pianist Jason Moran and saxophonist Tony Malaby. Last but not least, Evans is perfectly suited for this endeavor as he is a prodigious talent whom alto saxophonist Jackie McLean mentored. On his own recordings Evans showcases his singularity while exhibiting the influence of those who inspire him.

McBride’s live appearances are always thrilling. In addition, he will front a superbly skilled band that will perform vibrant and stimulating tunes from the 2018 disc mentioned above. Therefore, Christian McBride’s New Jawn concert promises to be an engrossing and delightful experience and a truly memorable event.

Christian McBride’s New Jawn performs Saturday, August 31, at 6:25 p.m. at Pritzker Pavilion. Click here for more information.

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