Christian McBride Brings the “Mingus” in Modern Big Band.

And what standards it sets for future jazz arrangers

Christian McBride performs at the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, R.I.

Imagine going through a long day at your accounting job in Newport, and you start the weekend off finding yourself in one of the seats of the Jazz Festival nearby. Starting from interconnecting melodies of the saxophones into the beaming screams from the trumpets, the Christian McBride big band gets your mind racing like never before. The band recently released their new 2017 album, Bringin’ It, which according to Dan Bilawsky on a 2017 allaboutjazz article, “Christian McBride Big Band: Bringin’ It,” it’s “a long-awaited follow-up to the group’s Grammy-winning debut, ‘The Good Feeling’.” It is no wonder that this album has people talking, however it strikes an interesting question. Does his music really represent modern big bands? His expression of music is strikingly similar to the Mingus big band, based off of the late composer and bassist Charles Mingus, and this comparison will lead to future jazz artists having the idea on how they will set for later big band arrangements.

Style in a jazz ensemble gives the sort of excitement the audience loves in the genre, changing the style in the piece is what makes jazz sound alike. Dan Bilawsky on the allaboutjazz article review, “Christian McBride Big Band: Bringin’ It”, gives his stance about how the album varies in style “track to track and moment to moment.” He gives the speculation that it is somewhat diverse from each piece of each song, like an adventure. Bilawsky is surely right about the fact that it changes, because that is one of the reasons why it speaks the similarities between them and the Mingus Big Band. John Fordham from theguardian stated in his 2016 review of the Mingus Big Band, that the ensemble is stated as “unpredictable”. This is what adventures are made to do, they are made to give an audience a ride they have never heard of; something that would never be predicted. This connection is very important that it builds up a template for new musicians to arrange their own works for larger ensembles. Set in the sparks of the new release of Bringing It, it serves the vital idea of modern big bands to create an adventure for their audience, and it being strikingly similar to the Mingus Big Band on giving later jazz arrangers a path to success.

This vital idea from the two bands can also be in the form of arranging past music. The 2017 jazzmonthly featured release review of Bringin’ It brings a very important claim to the comparison. The article mentions that “respects the past while looking forward.” In other words, the presentation is played out in a way that commemorates the past while adding modern elements to it. This relates to the works of the Mingus Big Band from Richard S. Ginell’s allmusic biography of the late Charles Mingus, where he states that the band “resurrected many of Mingus’ most challenging scores”.

The Mingus blend of wildly colorful eclecticism solidly rooted in jazz history should serve his legacy well in a future increasingly populated by young conservatives who want to pay their respects to tradition and try something different.

This entails that the band pays their respects to their founders past work and looks forward into the modern elements associated with today’s jazz arrangers. According to the jazzmonthly review and Ginell, it completely mirrors the idea that the band gives the past respect, and looks forward into the future. It is also indirectly influenced the idea where the newer jazz arrangers would have a template for formatting their piece into a modern big band structure, because these factors will echo with newer collectives.

The late Charles Mingus gives his ideas to his band before he died in 1979, and led his legacy to live on among his group, the same on how Christian McBride tells his group. This correlation will result in younger musicians to thrive on their ideas of adventure and keeping the past in mind. This structure lays the foundation of the art of modern big band, and that foundation is made of Mingus, while McBride carries the torch that was left on the front porch of the Mingus Big Band. Once you find yourselves in one of the seats of the Jazz Festival featuring the McBride Big Band with new music put onto the table, you will find the timeline of jazz history float in front of you.