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Hear a Burning New Track by Christian McBride, From His Qobuz EP 'The Q Sessions'

Christian McBride and Mike Stern
Christian McBride and Mike Stern at the Power Station in New York, recording 'The Q Sessions' for Qobuz

When Christian McBride was invited to make a new studio recording for Qobuz, the hi-res streaming and download service, his thoughts first turned to a couple of his working bands, The New Jawn and Inside Straight. Then he quickly reconsidered. “I thought, ‘Well, who do I want to play with?’” McBride, the Grammy-winning bassist and host of Jazz Night in America, tells WBGO. “And I took it as an opportunity to write something.”

The result is The Q Sessions, a three-track digital EP that will release tomorrow, for International Jazz Day, as the first in a new series of Qobuz exclusives. Recorded at the Power Station at BerkleeNYC, it features McBride with an all-star quartet featuring guitarist Mike Stern, drummer Eric Harland and saxophonist Marcus Strickland. As a hi-res product, it will stream without the standard digital compression — so the audio is heard in the same 24-bit / 192kHz quality with which it was captured in the studio.

WBGO is proud to premiere a track from the EP: "Brouhaha," a funk-fusion workout that McBride wrote with this band in mind. Listen below in full audio resolution:

If the tune calls to mind one of Stern’s epic late-night hangs at the 55 Bar, that’s partly by design. “I’ve always loved Stern,” says McBride, “and I thought this might be a good chance to get together with him. So I assembled the band first. They were all available and excited to do it. Then it came time to start writing the music.”

The Q Sessions

He drew inspiration from a dear associate, Chick Corea, who died this year. “‘Brouhaha’ is something I started writing a long time ago, when the Christian McBride Band was together,” McBride explains. “I don’t know why, but something said I should go back and try to finish that song. I wasn’t thinking about Chick in terms of the aesthetic, but he was always trying to get me to do more writing. I just could never bring myself to write a song for the Chick Corea Trio; I didn’t want to insult the man. But I think in honor of his wish, I said ‘Let me really buckle down and finish this.’ It certainly wasn’t ‘What would Chick write,’ but I was trying to do what he says.”

Power Station McBride
A floor plan for 'The Q Sessions' at the Power Station at Berklee NYC

The Q Sessions also includes a pair of more straight-ahead tunes, the songbook standard “On Green Dolphin Street” and Ornette Coleman’s “Blues Connotation,” both featuring McBride on his upright bass. “I wanted the session to be loose and fun, so we could stretch out and get some energy going,” he says. “So I knew that if we were going to do three songs, I wanted to do an original, a standard and a blues.”

McBride, a Mack Avenue recording artist, embraces the audiophile nature of the Qobuz platform — an experience he compares to listening on a high-end turntable. “I’m hoping that at some point, since the layperson seems the know the difference between standard resolution versus hi-res television, that the same could be true with music,” he says.

And judging by remarks from Qobuz (which is pronounced "CO-buzz"), the enthusiasm is mutual. “When we approached Christian about this project, he got it right away — music fans need to know that sound quality matters, and modern technology is capable of providing a mind-blowing listening experience,” says Dan Mackta, the company’s U.S. Managing Director. “Plus when Christian talks, people listen, so we couldn’t have a more effective (and wonderfully artistic) messenger.”

The Q Sessions will be available on Friday, exclusively at Qobuz.

A veteran jazz critic and award-winning author, Nate Chinen is editorial director at WBGO and a regular contributor to NPR Music.