Bandleader Christian McBride’s new “jawn,” and more jazz this month – The Denver Post

I’m not familiar with Philadelphia, and I’m confused. Veteran bassist and bandleader Christian McBride has named his current quartet, which he’s bringing to the Boulder Theater on February 26, “New Jawn.”

So, what’s a “jawn?”

“It’s a noun. It’s a substitute word for any noun,” McBride tells me. “So instead of a band, it’s a jawn.”

That’s what they call an otherwise unnamed thing in Philly. I’ve learned something one minute into the conversation with McBride, whose new album with the, er, jawn, “Prime,” is magnificently brash. It swings, sometimes it ventures outward (there’s even a nod to ‘60s pioneer Eric Dolphy on one track) and overall, it’s an invigorating listening experience.

This particular quartet (with Josh Evans on trumpet, Marcus Strickland on tenor saxophone and drummer Nasheet Waits) performs without a pianist or guitarist, and since those chordal instruments have been omitted, there’s more of an opportunity to play a “freer” style of the music.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to have the challenge of playing in a group without a piano or a guitar?’ This is turned into a band that’s been together for seven years. I’d like to think that the guys (in the quartet) like it as much as I do,” McBride says.

The performances on “Prime” present an adventurous kind of fun throughout. Strickland in particular plays admirably, tearing through an exciting cover of Sonny Rollins’ “East Broadway Run Down” as fierce as the 1966 original.

And McBride enjoys the challenge of playing jazz in this unconventional way.

“I have more responsibility. I think that when there are chords missing, I have to be stronger in my harmonic support, and my melodic support is needed. My job is to not make the listener miss the piano or the guitar. I like that I have to keep my antenna up a little higher.”

McBride hasn’t performed at the Boulder Theater lately, but he has a fond history with the room.

“I’ve had a lot of great, memorable shows there. The first time was with Pat Metheny in 1993.”

Now, 30 years on, McBride is still creating powerful music with his bass.

Christian McBride’s New Jawn, 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 26, Boulder Theater. Tickets are $29.50-$39.50.


More jazz in the Denver region in February:

Vocalist and keyboardist Bonnie Lowdermilk appears at the R Gallery and Wine Bar in Boulder on Feb. 9. … Trumpeter Joshua Trinidad pays tribute to the late Ron Miles at Dazzle on Feb. 7, and drummer Mark Guiliana brings his band to the Dazzle stage Feb. 20-21. … Saxophonist Gerald Albright returns to the Soiled Dove Underground Feb. 17-18, and look for longtime Denver favorites Dotsero there on Feb. 25. … Saxophonist Briana Harris and her group will play Denver’s Nocturne Feb. 10, 17 and 24, presenting jazz interpretations of Carole King’s music. … Nelson Rangell appears at Nissi’s in Lafayette Feb. 22. … Also in Lafayette: Trumpeter Brad Goode leads a jam session at the Muse Performance Space on Mondays in February. … Black History Month festivities in Five Points include music from the Wil Alston Group at Spangalang Brewery on Feb. 18 and Taryn Newborne and The Real Deal at Cervantes’ Other Side Feb. 25.

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