URBANA — It is a busy week of learning and performing for students in the jazz studies department on the University of Illinois Urbana campus.
Listen to Brian Moline’s conversation with Dr. Barrington Coleman here.
Jazz bassist Christian McBride and his bandmates have been teaching masterclasses on campus this week, leading up to a performance of McBride’s piece “The Movement Revisited” at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts Sunday night.
McBride says his own experiences learning from jazz legends like Max Roach, Freddie Hubbard, Betty Carter and others have led him to pay it forward to the next generation of musicians.
“I thought if I were ever in that same position, to be able to talk to some young musicians coming up, no-brainer for me, I’m always down to do that,” McBride said.
McBride has known U of I associate professor of voice, Barrington Coleman, since their days together at the Julliard School in New York more than 30 years ago. Coleman played a large role in bringing McBride to campus to perform and teach this week.
Coleman says the educational aspect of the week for students in the jazz studies department has been invaluable.
“For all of us who have been fortunate as musicians, or any art form, to come along and have that mentorship passed along, it’s rare,” Coleman said.
The U of I concert jazz band, narrators and a community choir will perform “The Movement Revisited” Sunday at 7:30pm at the Colwell Playhouse inside Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. It is a tribute to civil rights leaders Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
McBride says he first wrote the piece in 1998 for a small jazz group and gospel choir before rewriting it several years later when he was the creative chair for jazz programming for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.
“I actually rewrote the piece from scratch,” McBride said. “That’s how you year it now, with the full big band, and narrators, and the choir.”
He says the piece was first recorded in 2013, but not released until 2020, just a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. Sunday night’s performance will be just the third time McBride has been able to perform it since the recording was released two years ago.
Coleman says “The Movement Revisited” is a perfect fit for the “New Awakenings” collaboration he began developing two years ago in response to the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd.
“Students began to cry out, they said we need to find a way of moving forward and saying something new,” Coleman said. “I began to try to find works artistically that expressed a new path forward, what I referred to as a re-imagined, universal brotherhood.”
You can find tickets and more information about this performance, including COVID-19 protocols, at the Krannert Center website.
Christian McBride is also the host of “Jazz Night in America” from NPR, which you can hear Saturdays at 10pm and Sundays at 9pm on WILL-FM 90.9.
Follow Brian on Twitter @BrianMolineWILL.