Christian McBride, a popular and critically acclaimed jazz bassist, composer, and bandleader, will take on a new role this summer: artistic director of the long-running Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, R.I. For this summer’s festival, McBride will work alongside George Wein, who founded the event in 1954, and Danny Melnick, who has worked with Wein for 25 years. McBride will then take up the curatorial reins himself in 2017.
“When I first met and heard a teenage Christian McBride in 1989, I knew that he was someone special,” Wein said in a press statement. “Little did I know that nearly 30 years later, he would become the special someone to continue my legacy.”
McBride, 43, was born in Philadelphia in 1972, and pursued his formal education at the Juilliard School in New York. Already a seasoned veteran, he has performed alongside major artists ranging from Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis to Paul McCartney and the Roots. His own groups have spanned styles: straightahead piano-trio swing, boisterous big-band affairs, funky fusion, and slick R&B-oriented projects. In February, he wowed a Boston audience anchoring the Mack Avenue SuperBand in a concert at Berklee Performance Center.
Off the bandstand, McBride is a prominent teacher and community organizer, as well as a media personality familiar through his SiriusXM satellite-radio show, “The Lowdown: Conversations With Christian,” and as host of “Jazz Night in America” on NPR. His administrative credits include work with the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.
“I am deeply humbled by my appointment as artistic director of the Newport Jazz Festival – the most storied and legendary jazz festival in history,” McBride said in a press statement. “To be able to work with a legend like George Wein, not only as a musician, but now as an understudy, is a task I will cherish and approach with openness and excitement.”
The 2016 Newport Jazz Festival takes place July 29-31 at Fort Adams State Park and the International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Newport Casino. In addition to McBride, who will perform with Corea and drummer Brian Blade, featured artists include Norah Jones, Gregory Porter, Angélique Kidjo, Kamasi Washington, Charles Lloyd, and Galactic. Details and ticket information are available at www.newportjazzfest.org.