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Christian McBride Selected as the Musical Director for Rollins Tribute at Kennedy Center; nominated for 2012 GRAMMY
(Published: December 09, 2011)

Jazz House Kids creative chair and bassist extraordinaire Christian McBride was the musical director for the segment paying special tribute to the great jazz legend Sonny Rollins at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, December 5th. McBride assembled an impressive multi-generational who's-who of jazz to honor this colossal giant. In classic form, Billy Cosby's opening remarks celebrated Mr. Rollins as one of the most recognizable, important and influential musicians around the globe and an innovator of jazz improvisation of unprecedented stature. The 81-year-old iconic tenor saxophonist was honored with the 2011 Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award.

While the identities of the artists performing for Mr. Rollins were kept secret until the evening of the gala, Mr. McBride selected the elite group of today's jazz royalty to join him on stage including saxophonist and composer Benny Golson, critically-acclaimed drummer and educator Billy Drummond, the one-and-only piano maestro Herbie Hancock, saxophonist and composer Joe Lovano, trumpet master Roy Hargrove, saxophonist "Little Bird" Jimmy Heath, and heir-apparent saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, son of Mr. Rollin's friends and collaborator, the late great John Coltrane.

Accompanied by his wife, Melissa Walker, founder and executive director of Jazz House Kids, the weekend's festivities included a reception to meet the President and First Lady in the East Room, "Red Carpet" arrivals at the Hall of States, the Kennedy Center Honors Gala, and post Gala Supper. Fellow saxophonist and former President Clinton gave tribute to Rollins at a State-department hosted dinner the eve of the gala.

In his tribute to Mr. Rollins, President Obama touched upon the musician's early years in the 1930's, when Harlem was a "hotbed of jazz."

"For a young musician with a big horn and bigger dreams, it was heaven. Duke Ellington and Coleman Hawkins lived around the corner. Sonny learned melody and harmony from Thelonious Monk, and Miles Davis was a regular playing partner."

"It wasn't long before Sonny earned the nickname 'the Saxophone Colossus,' and became known as one of the greatest improvisers in the history of jazz. Today, he often plays hour-long solos without any repetition, leaving audiences speechless. People sometimes wonder how he can play for so long, but in Sonny's words, 'It just means there's something out there, and I know I have to find it.' "

President Obama also paid tribute to Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement honorees Meryl Streep, Neil Diamond, Yo-Yo Ma and Barbara Cook. The Kennedy Center Honors will air on CBS on Tuesday, December 27th, 2011, 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm EST.

McBride is also up for a 2012 Grammy in the category, Big Band Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for "The Good Feeling." The CD features the stellar Christian McBride Band and the gorgeous sultry vocals of Melissa Walker.

Photo top row: Billy Drummond, Benny Golson, Herbie Hancock, Joe Lovano, Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove. Bottom row: Jimmy Heath, Sonny Rollins, Ravi Coltrane.

More Information: http://www.jazzhousekids.org

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