Christian McBride will headline benefit for Luna Stage

Christian McBride interview

Christian McBride will perform at the Montclair Women’s Club, June 1, in a benefit for Luna Stage.

Luna Stage will offer a rare opportunity to see world-class jazz bassist Christian McBride in an intimate setting June 1, when McBride performs with pianist Emmet Cohen and guitarist Charlie Sigler at the Montclair Women’s Club. The event, a benefit for the West Orange theater company, will begin at 7 p.m. and also feature cocktails and dessert, a silent auction, and dancing after the concert.

Proceeds will support Luna productions, as well as classes it presents in local schools, and community programming. For information, visit lunastage.org.

“Anybody who recognizes the importance of the arts HAS to support Luna Stage and its commitment to developing not just actors, but writers and directors as well,” said McBride in an email interview.

He said that he, Cohen and Sigler will play “mostly classics from the Great American Songbook.”

McBride, who lives in Montclair, is the artistic chair of Montclair-based Jazz House Kids, and his wife, Melissa Walker, is Jazz House Kids’ founder and president. McBride says that while the two organizations have never officially collaborated, “we’ve been HUGE fans of theirs through the years, and an official collaboration is absolutely necessary!”

He said that while music has obviously always been his main focus, “I LOVE the theater and deeply respect the art form and its practitioners.”

A Philadelphia native, he also said: “I always considered myself a ‘New York’ musician. But I realized that I could never fully be a ‘New York’ musician unless I played in the pit orchestra of a Broadway show. Many jazz legends from Ron Carter to Bernard Purdie to Grady Tate to Jerome Richardson not only played jazz gigs, but spent many hours in the pit. My dream was finally realized when I played in the pit orchestra of ‘Motown: The Musical.’ ”

McBride currently has just one other local appearance scheduled: Aug. 11 at the Montclair Jazz Festival in Nishuane Park (other performers will include Eddie Palmieri, Oliver Lake and the Royal Bopsters). But his 2018 itinerary is packed with other appearances, elsewhere in the United States as well as in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

“My big band just completed its first European tour,” he says. “We played twelve cities in fifteen days and it was a fantastic experience. I tend to always stay on the road with one of my projects, so for the rest of the year it’ll be business as usual — going to play for people who ask us to play for them. I always look forward to that.”

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