On January 5, 2017, the Jazz Connect Conference will present bassist, bandleader, educator, and advocate Christian McBride with the Bruce Lundvall Visionary Award. The Jazz Connect Conference created the Bruce Lundvall Visionary Award in 2014 in honor of the esteemed jazz record executive who was a champion and advocate for so many jazz artists over the last four decades. The annual award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and vision in expanding the audience for jazz and who has made a real difference for the artists, the music and the audience. The award's first recipient was Randall Kline, SFJAZZ founder and executive director. Brice Rosenbloom, founder of the BOOM Collective and organizer of Winter Jazzfest, the Undead Music Festival, the BRIC Jazz Festival and other innovative live events, received the award in 2016.
The first musician to be recognized with the honor, multiple Grammy® Award-winner McBride has distinguished himself both on the bandstand and off, but according to JazzTimes publisher Lee Mergner, one of the organizers of the conference, it's for the latter achievements that he was selected for the award. "Christian is truly a force of nature and not just as a player," said Mergner. "For the last few decades, he's been a tireless advocate and spokesman for the music, with a unique knowledge and respect for its past, present and future. And as an educator he's been a mentor and inspiration to several generations of young musicians."
Perhaps McBride's first experience as an educator and advocate came in 1997 when he spoke on former President Bill Clinton's town hall meeting "Racism in the Performing Arts." He has since been named Artistic Director of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Sessions (2000), co-director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem (2005), and the Second Creative Chair for Jazz of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (2005). In 1998 he combined roles, composing "The Movement, Revisited," a four-movement suite dedicated to four of the major figures of the civil rights movement: Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The piece was commissioned by the Portland (ME) Arts Society and the National Endowment for the Arts, and performed throughout New England in the fall of 1998 with McBride's quartet and a 30-piece gospel choir.
Currently he hosts and produces "The Lowdown: Conversations With Christian" on SiriusXM satellite radio and National Public Radio's "Jazz Night in America," a weekly radio show and multimedia collaboration between WBGO, NPR and Jazz at Lincoln Center, showcasing outstanding live jazz from across the country. With his staggering body of work, McBride is the ideal host, drawing on history, experience, and a gift for storytelling to bridge the gap between artist, music, and audience. He brings that same breadth of experience to bear as Artistic Advisor for Jazz Programming at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and most recently for the Newport Jazz Festival. Completing the circle is his work with Jazz House Kids, the nationally recognized community arts organization founded by his wife, vocalist Melissa Walker.
"I'm very humbled and honored to receive an award that bears the name of one of the most respected and loved visionaries we have ever known, Bruce Lundvall," said McBride. "I wish I could have worked with him more often in my career, but the few times we spent together, I always learned a lot. Mostly I learned just what a great person he was. Just being a great person is always the most important thing."
The 2017 Jazz Connect Conference--co-presented by JazzTimes and Jazz Forward Coalition--brings together the jazz community for a series of panels, workshops and special events, and will be held at Saint Peter's Church at 54th Street & Lexington Avenue in New York City. With a theme of "The Family of Jazz," the conference leads into both the APAP conference and Winter Jazzfest. This past year's conference was attended by over 800 industry professionals and artists and featured a keynote address by Dee Dee Bridgewater, recently named a NEA Jazz Master. The Grammy® Award-winning bandleader/composer/arranger Maria Schneider will give the keynote address at the 2017 Jazz Connect Conference.
For more information, visit the Jazz Connect website.