The Mack Avenue SuperBand is set to perform in New York at Birdland from Tuesday, January 26 – Saturday, January 30 with sets at 8:30pm and 11:00pm in celebration of their upcoming release, Live From The Detroit Jazz Festival – 2015(available January 15). The performances will feature bassist Christian McBride, vibraphonist Gary Burton, saxophonist Tia Fuller, trumpeter Sean Jones, pianist Christian Sands and drummer Carl Allen.
Since its rollicking debut at the 2012 Detroit Jazz Festival, the Mack Avenue SuperBand has become a tradition at the annual event, a gathering of label superstars that the Motor City can look forward to every Labor Day weekend. Live From the Detroit Jazz Festival – 2015 captures the fourth incarnation of the all-star ensemble, for the first time under the leadership of Christian McBride. This year, McBride takes over as musical director (a role previously held by fellow bassist Rodney Whitaker), leading a knockout conglomeration of Mack Avenue artists through a set as sweltering as that late-summer day in the concrete outdoor arena of Hart Plaza.
“I’ve been a Mack Avenue artist for quite some time now,” says McBride, who made his label debut in 2009 with Kind of Brown, the first release from his Inside Straight quintet. He’s since released five more albums by that band, his trio, and his big band. “My catalogue with Mack Avenue is bigger than it has been for any other label I’ve been affiliated with, so I feel like an important member of the Mack Avenue family. It would have been good just to be on the gig, period, but when they asked me to be the musical director it seemed like a simple call to make.”
Joining McBride as first-time members of the SuperBand are pianist Christian Sands and trumpeter Freddie Hendrix. While neither has recorded as a leader for Mack Avenue, both have recorded for the label under McBride’s leadership: Hendrix in the bassist’s Big Band and Sands as a member of both Inside Straight and the Christian McBride Trio. The rest of the seven-piece group all are returning veterans: drummerCarl Allen has anchored the band since the beginning, while saxophonists Tia Fuller and Kirk Whalum and vibraphonist Gary Burton are all three-time members.
The members of the SuperBand represent a diverse range of generations and styles. It offers a rare opportunity, for instance, to hear NEA Jazz Master Gary Burton engage with a group of younger players with more of a hard-bop focus than he usually encounters in his own more modern-leaning bands. “This is definitely not my normal zone,” he admits with a chuckle. “But this is the music I grew up playing. I was a bebop guy in my teens and twenties – that was the standard jazz of the day. Playing straight-ahead is something I hadn’t done much for a while, so I was looking forward to a relaxing, fun, jam session kind of setting where I didn’t have to read a million notes and play a lot of complex music. In spite of that, some of the music ended up being fairly complicated and challenging.”
Mack Avenue SuperBand · Live From the Detroit Jazz Festival – 2015 Mack Avenue Records · Release Date: January 15, 2016