Review: Christian McBride’s New Jawn @ West End Cultural Centre
I’m a bit late to the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Fest this year. For the first time, I missed all of the opening weekend at The Cube.
My Dad died without warning last September and for the past few weeks, I haven’t been well. This was the first Father’s Day since his death and it was hard.
But I survived, it’s over and I’m feeling much better.
I’m back and ready for Jazz Fest.
This was the first comp ticket I used from Jazz Winnipeg since they granted me media accreditation. So basically, I strutted into the West End, flashed my comp ticket and yelled, “YO! WHERE’S MY VIP SEAT?! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!”
Hah! Just kidding. Basically, I snuck in inconspicuously because today was Farm Day at Kindergarten and I spent the whole day at Six Pines Farm as a chaperone. I couldn’t find time to shower between the farm, grocery shopping and making dinner, so I was acutely aware of the sunscreen/farm animal smell wafting from me.
This is the life of a media accredited concert reviewer/Mommy. Isn’t it glamorous?
Kits Temple from CKUW 95.9 intro’d the show and anticipated it would be a “highlight for (jazz) purists”.
The musicians took the stage and I almost jumped out of my seat and yelled “QUINCY!!! YAAAAAAAAY!”
Then I was a bit sad. Whenever I see Quincy play, it’s usually a fluke. I go to a jazz show, not knowing who the players are and he walks on stage. I always get excited when I see him because I know I’m in for some stellar drumming.
However, that’s not going to happen anymore because he’s been enticed to teach at the University of North Texas. I’m beyond thrilled for him, so I stopped being sad and soaked it all in like it was the last time I’d see him play. Oh, and it was glorious. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Thelonious Monk’s “Played Twice” was a nice intro, with each member of the band playing a solo (except Quincy).
A speedy rendition of Larry Young’s “Obsequious” which, I LOVED came next. There are few things more wonderful than fast jazz played exceptionally, and this was exceptional. As Christian, Quincy and trumpeter, Josh Evans played, I imagined a sheet of music notes above their heads, racing and rushing along the staff. It was so thrilling. And then the song slowed down and became groovy. When Josh finished, saxophonist Marcus Strickland replaced him and the song slowed right down to the point where I lost the groove for a bit and couldn’t follow the song. But it came back and Quincy grinned while Christian responded with that face that looks like someone passed wind on stage, but it really means “This part feels so incredible, it’s nasty”. Or something like that…I don’t really speak musician.
By the end of this song, my hands were clasped near my chest because that’s what I do when I’m really enjoying something. THEN…the music stopped and Quincy played a solo. I may not be a musician, but even I can see why he was chosen by North Texas University. Good Lord, it was extraordinary. Fast and slow, here, there and everywhere. And after it was over, the audience responded with boisterous applause.
Christian finally stepped in front of the mic, told us the names of the previous tunes and then explained that Quincy wasn’t supposed to play tonight, but “this (Winnipeg) would be the place to get stuck when you need a great drummer”. He said he’s known Quincy for many years, but this was their first gig together. They were gelling so well, he then replied, “doesn’t feel like it”.
Christian intro’d Marcus and Josh and then they all played “Ballad For Ernie Washington” which felt slow and meandering like a river.
At this point I raced to the washroom. I got back in record time and as I was standing at the back of the theatre waiting for the song to end, legendary local radio personality, Howard Mandshein walked in with a friend.
Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever had a super busy day at a farm chasing sheep and chickens with your 5 year old, then you rush to the grocery store then rush home to make dinner and you realize you have zero time to shower, but you think to yourself, “Screw it, I’m not going to see anyone I know at this event, I’ll just go like this…” and then you see a legendary radio personality that you’ve always wanted to formally meet, but you have no makeup on, you’re dirty, greasy and you smell like a goat? And then you end up sitting almost right next to said radio personality? No? Just me, eh?
Back to the story…I resisted the urge to burst out laughing because it’s just my luck he would walk in and instead said, “Hey Howard, I met you at a Tea Party show a couple of years ago” and he went, “Oh they’re great. Hey, is anyone sitting in that row over there?” and I said “Maybe, but there’s no one sitting in my row, follow me.” And then I proceeded to give him my primo seat.
The next tune was Art Blakey’s “United” which I would have LOVED to listen to because Art is one of my most favourite musicians, but I couldn’t concentrate, because…how the hell did I end up sitting next to Howard Mandshein? And WHY didn’t I shower?!
During intermission, I proceeded to tell Howard and his friend about my blog at break-neck speed, like a squirrel on amphetamines.
ANYWAY, I got over it, and my mind drifted back to the show.
Wayne Shorter’s “Sightseeing” showcased Christian’s talent as a musician. I could literally see all the hard work that went into his craft. Sometimes I’ll see bassists play something fast and after awhile, I can tell they’re getting tired. Their body is pushing and I can see they’re struggling. I never saw Christian tired or struggling. He was fresh and on it from Note 1 right through to Note 945. And his solo was funky, then slow, then ridiculously fast. It was all so impressive.
The show got bluesy with Thelonious Monk’s “Misterioso”. Christian played one or two notes on the bass while Josh and Marcus traded call and respond notes. Then Christian kicked into the song and I was covered in goosebumps. The man can play the blues. He can also play it double time and not lose that feel; it was fantastic. And there’s Quincy, laid back on the kit and Marcus coercing sexy, sweet melodies from the sax. Gaaaaaah…loved it.
Ornett Coleman’s “The Good Life” is the song I missed hearing at The Cube this year. I’m not sure if anyone has played it there, but it felt like an outdoor song. It was so much fun with a solid melody and my foot was tapping the moment I heard it. I imagined Christian’s bass coming alive during his solo, and dancing me around the room and then Quincy played a solo and it became physically painful to stay seated. That was the end of the show so I jumped up and enthusiastically clapped.
I didn’t recognize the encore song, but it was fun too.
That was a great show, I kind of feel guilty that I didn’t pay for it. It was definitely worth paying for.
Who am I seeing tomorrow…Mavis Staples! Oooh, that should be interesting.
TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here: www.facebook.com/TicketMOMs