Cecil McBee

Cecil McBee studied clarinet in elementary school and was inspired by the encouragement of his band director. He knew from that young age that he wanted a career in music. When he was a teenager he switched to bass and began playing at local clubs and parties. His incredible career includes live performances and recordings with such jazz legends as Dinah Washington, Miles Davis, Jackie McLean, Wayne Shorter and Freddie Hubbard. The 1975 album Mutima for Strata-East Records was his first as a bandleader, seven other albums would follow. In 1987 Cecil teamed up with Pharoah Sanders, McCoy Tyner, Roy Haynes and David Murray to record the album Blues for Coltrane: A Tribute to John Coltrane. The album won a Grammy the following year for Best Instrumental Performance by an individual or group. His 2020 NAMM Oral History interview took place just before his 85th Birthday and just moments before a jazz gig. He recalled at the time “I am more excited about playing now at my age than ever before.”

Interview Date:
February 22, 2020
Job Title:
Musician, Bassist

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