This morning I was in jazz mode and listened to the Christian McBride & Inside Straights release People Music. The album was released in May of this year. Inside Straight has everything I enjoy in jazz, lively vibes from Warren Wolf, piano from Peter Martin and smooth saxophone from Steve Wilson, All supported by the solid bass lines of Christian’s bass and Carl Allen;s drums.on the majority of the songs. On a few of the songs the piano duties are manned by Christian Sands and Ulysses Owens, Jr. handles the drums. Both are considered members of the Inside Straight family.
One of the other aspects of the album that I love is that Christian is the leader of the band, yet, he lets the other members of the band shine, particularly Warren Wolf! Compositions by Wolf (Gang Gang), Peter Martin (Unusual Suspects) and Steve Wilson (Ms. Angelou) are included on the album along with five McBride originals. In an interview with Celeste Headlee on TELL ME MORE from NPR News, McBride explained his motivation:
…when you’ve got musicians like Warren and Steve Wilson and Peter Martin, who are all the core members of Inside Straight, you know, why hog up all the compositional space. They should be able to express themselves not only as soloists and improvisers but also as composers.
In the interview, he also explains the message behind the album’s title People Music. McBride sees a need for jazz artist to reach out to a new and varied audience…..
Well, I want to send a message, maybe not so subliminal, that jazz is music for the people. Not that it has been viewed any differently than that but I think that the people that jazz reaches, as you mentioned in your introduction, seem to be getting smaller and smaller and smaller. And I think that the thinking of the general population is that jazz is an exclusive club, you know, you’ve got to know something about it, you got to be a music head, you know, it’s not for everybody. And that’s about as far from the truth as one could be. So I want to make people understand that it’s also from the heart and it’s also from the soul, it’s also for fun. You know what I mean? So I want people to understand that this is people music.
As a follow-up to the above, Headlee asks: how do you expand the shrinking and aging jazz audience??,,,
There’s a lot of different ways to do it. I think we jazz musicians, so-called jazz musicians, we have to be proactive in bringing the music to a younger audience. That means going to play in schools, going to collaborate with other artists who have the ear of the younger generation. And there are a lot of us who’ve done that in recent years. I think Roy Hargrove has done that, Robert Glasper’s certainly doing that now, a lot of people. So we have to take the message to the younger crowd and find a way to meet them where they are and then slowly bring them to where we are. And then there can be a happy balance between all. There are some minds out there who I think can bring the two generations together, or bring the younger generation to this music known as jazz.
You can listen or read the transcript of the full interview on the NPR website:Christian McBride: Music Is About People, Not Grammys
In my opinion a good way to keep the audience growing is to have great younger musician like McBride and Wolf keep making great music, like the music on this album. “If you play it they will come!” And those things that McBride says will probably help, too – he says sheepishly!
Here’s the band performing “Used Ta Could” A great example of the great chemistry between the band members, as well the outstanding sax of Steve Wilson. If you want to check out more about McBride and Inside Straight watch this video a “behind the scenes” look at People Music