In-Demand McBride Finally Finds Time for Own Quartet

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

After several years as jazz's most in-demand young bassist, Christian McBride is stepping out on his own.

The 22-year-old wunderkind, who appeared late last month in Los Angeles as a member of tenor man Joshua Redman's foursome, will introduce his new quartet Saturday and Sunday at Zanzibar Blue in Philadelphia.

The performance is in celebration of the release of "Gettin' to It," McBride's long-awaited recording debut as a leader, due in the stores Tuesday from Verve Records. The album features Redman, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, pianist Cyrus Chestnut and cameos by bassists Ray Brown and Milt Hinton.

McBride's quartet--which includes saxophonist Tim Warfield, pianist Anthony Wonsey (Chestnut plays the Philadelphia engagement) and drummer Greg Hutchinson--makes its Southern California debut March 28 through April 2 at the Catalina Bar & Grill.

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Nearing Gold: "Officium," the ECM recording that pairs expressive jazz saxman Jan Garbarek with the a cappella vocal quartet the Hilliard Ensemble in a program of vocal music from the 13th through 16th centuries, is more than halfway to a gold record for sales. The album, released Sept. 13, has sold more than 300,000 copies worldwide, well more than half the 500,000 sales needed to be certified gold.

Besides placing consistently in the Top 10 albums on the Billboard magazine classical charts, "Officium" has also been added to the Billboard "Heatseeker" chart, a 40-album compilation devoted to new or developing artists. In the most recent chart, "Officium" ranked at No. 22.

In a side development, Garbarek's "Twelve Moons" ECM recording was just nominated for a 1995 best contemporary jazz performance Grammy. ECM spokesman Joe Pignato attributed the nomination in part to the success of "Officium," which, ironically, was not nominated in the Grammy classical categories.

"We're disappointed but not surprised," Pignato said of the lack of a nomination. "The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences voters who select Grammy nominees are notoriously conservative."

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Schifrin and Strings: With "Jazz Meets the Symphony" and "More Jazz Meets the Symphony," pianist and composer Lalo Schifrin wed his dual interests--jazz and classical music. Each of these recordings, made for Atlantic Records in 1993 and 1994, respectively, spotlights Schifrin's trio (Ray Brown, bass, and Grady Tate, drums) with the lush strings, brass and percussion of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Schifrin heads to London later this month to make a new album called "Jazz Meets the Symphony No. 3," which will contain suites in tribute to Charlie Parker and Fats Waller.

The Parker piece, to be called "Charlie Parker: The Firebird," uses fragments of Stravinsky's "The Firdbird" interspersed with tunes by Parker or associated with him, such as "Donna Lee" and "Parker's Mood." "Since he was a bird on fire in every sense, I think it's an appropriate title," Schifrin says. The alto part will be played by Paquito D'Rivera, the fine Cuban saxophonist who now lives in New York.

The Waller suite fits together such well-loved tunes as "Honeysuckle Rose," "Ain't Misbehavin' " and "Jitterbug Waltz." The album will be out in late 1995, and Schifrin will appear with the Glendale Symphony, of which he is musical director through the end of the current season, in a program of "Jazz Meets the Symphony" on April 22 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. Information: (818) 243-2539.

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Critic's Choice: New York-based trumpeter Mark Morganelli makes his L.A. debut tonight at the Jazz Bakery, performing with the first-class team of pianist Eric Reed, bassist Larry Gales and drummer Albert (Tootie) Heath. Morganelli, known for his excellent recordings on Candid and Jazz Forum records, has a sizzle to his sound and a fire in his improvisations. He says he plans to invite several well-known musicians in for tonight's second show for "an old-fashioned New York jam session." Information: (310) 271-9039.

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