June 20, 2024


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Christian McBride is “never any happier”: Video

After leaving Philadelphia decades ago to follow his dream of playing jazz, bassist and composer Christian McBride is “never any happier” than being here, in New York.

Although he lives in Montclair, NJ (his wife isn’t a city person), the 46-year-old’s work often brings him into town: On Saturday, he’ll be at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, working as the musical director for “Say It Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud at 50!” an event celebrating the 1968 James Brown song. Here, McBride tells MARISA DELLATTO how he spends his free time in the city.

I always like to go around Harlem. There is that little area where the Red Rooster is and the Corner Social that has some nice activity going on. I’ve been involved with the Jazz Museum in Harlem since 2004, which is just up the street.

I have a really large collection of hats. Fedoras, [homburgs,] I got all kinds of stuff. [In Harlem I go to] that hat shop FlameKeepers Hat Club. I also go down to Goorin Brothers on Bleecker Street. I have an account there.

I have a strange body type that’s really annoying. Regular shops, I’m too big for. And the big-and-tall shops, I’m too small for. I will go to Rochester Big and Tall in Midtown; they’ll usually take care of me and tailor my clothes. If I’m ever in the neighborhood I almost always have to go there. I used to have loud, crazy, creative suits but I tend to stay more to the browns and blacks and grays these days.

I’ll tell you another place that I love going to in that neighborhood: The Paley Center. I’ve been a member for 20 years. They have these amazing seminars and roundtables and special events. I like watching old news reports — I’m a nerd. I’ll watch old broadcasts of “60 Minutes” from the early ’70s. I really am interested in watching civil rights events and how they were presented and represented in the news. I love the variety show era, too.

I’m a big crate picker, so I’m always shopping for vinyl. I like to go to the Jazz Record Center, and there’s a place in Williamsburg, Earwax Records. I look up R&B and funk, soul, but on general principle, I always find my way to the jazz section.

Christian McBride

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