Convergence w/ Christian McBride 2.4.11
Words & Photos By J-man
It's always a pleasure to see one of the best contemporary bassists of not only our time, but of all time. Dazzle, a local Denver jazz club would play host to the evening's event. That evening Christian joined Convergence, a group that has been playing jazz together for over twenty years. The amount of raw talent and sheer ability that the crowd witnessed that night was captivating.
The previous evening's shows sold out and going into Saturday's shows we were informed of the same. We were given confirmation on our credentials and told that although there was no room for us, accommodations would be made. Arriving at the small jazz club we were seated in the back on two bar stools. Looking around the room it was clear that the show was indeed sold out, as every candlelit table was occupied with additional chairs placed where space permitted.
Our attention was directed to the stage as the band went into another song. Christian sat just behind the front line, which turned out to be an extremely pleasant and skilled horn section. The trumpet player was featured the most out of the band members, with good reason as he was a phenomenal player. The trombone and sax player were also impressive tearing through their sectional parts as well as solos. The drummer stood out to me specifically due to his great coverage of the kit. His playing was choppy and all over the place; he flew across the set hitting a range of percussive sounds in a fluid motion. One could tell this cat had been playing for a while.
On the opposite end of the stage was the piano player who contributed greatly to the band and show. I often found myself watching him get at the piano, only to notice all of the musicians were focused on him as well. His fingers rolled across the keys with ease. In front of the piano was the guest of honor, Mr. Christian McBride. It was great to see him smile and make facial expressions that closely resembled how I was feeling about the music. He was really enjoying himself.
Christian's range on the upright bass is incredible. I have witnessed, on very few occasions, musicians with comparable skills to those of Christian McBride. He would start low on the bass, creating a rumbling groove, working his way high up the neck to make the bass scream, never loosing it's impeccable tone. The other gentleman on the stage switched on and off between a classical guitar and an upright bass. You could tell that he was in his glory as he looked thrilled playing bass next to Christian. He looked on as Christian worked his magic, only to have that magic passed his way for a call and response type of jam. The basses played well off of each other and created a really full sound.
Christian McBride and Convergence went through some originals, standards and McBride tunes. The highlight of the evening for me was a McBride original titled "Uhura's Moment Returned." That evening Dazzle hosted a packed house of upper class jazz fans, all of whom seemed to be pleased with the evening... Myself included.