Weekend in Review Pt. 1 – Christian McBride & Edgar Meyer

After some awesome concerts this weekend, each featuring one or more string players, I was left with much to say. Here are my thoughts.

Weekend in Review Pt. 1 – Christian McBride & Edgar Meyer

In Bailey Hall at Cornell University this past Friday, the two of the greatest bassists on the planet shared an intimate stage and concert, playing jazz standards, their own compositions, and a smattering of other styles.

For anyone who knows either Christian McBride or Edgar Meyer knows that their technical and musical abilities are almost unmatched. McBride has been on the forefront of jazz since emerging on the scene, and beyond playing, he has begun “Jazz Night In America” on NPR and has continued work in pedagogy. Meyer has played in classical, jazz, and folk settings throughout his career, and has excelled in all. His virtuosity is paralleled only by Gary Karr, the greatest and shining example for solo bassists.

Given that intro, it seems frivolous discussion every single piece of minutia. In short, it was amazing. To watch two masters of their craft, not only individually, but together was a marvel. The speed and clarity of their playing, their impeccable taste and choice, and their musicality was a treat, whether they were playing duets, unaccompanied, or playing piano for each other for a couple tunes (because, why not?). While the playing was magnificent, the real story is their dynamic.

Despite all of the pyrotechnics and the beautiful phrasing, the first thing I said to myself after the show was “these two love each other.” They were exceptionally communicative musically, and they way they looked at each other was loving, thoughtful, and deep. They’ve been playing together for over a year now, and the mutual admiration society benefits us all. With daps, high fives, pats on the back, and hugs, it was too much fun to watch them work together. It put a big, warm smile on my face.

Not to say that they didn’t let their own personalities through. McBride is cool. Decked in a black suite with a t shirt and a vaguely African wood necklace, he was smooth. Meyer is quirky, a little awkward (dressed like your uncle with a striped tie and a shirt with it’s sleeves rolled up past the elbow), and funny.

A few interesting notes. It was very cool to hear how different McBride’s and Meyer’s phrasing and note choices are. Even though they played off of each other, it was clear that McBride is a bebop and blues player, while McBride was steeped in folk and classical. McBride plays with a fire, and Meyer is completely fluid and one with his instrument.

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