By introducing a promising vibraphonist to campus, Miller Theatre hopes to attract new audience members and give a young musician the opportunity to perform in a larger venue.
Christian McBride and Inside Straight will open the 2012-2013 season of Miller Theatre’s jazz series on Saturday. The quartet, led by jazz bassist McBride, will feature Steve Wilson on saxophone, Peter Martin on piano, and introduce Warren Wolf on vibraphone. McBride’s music can be described as straight-head jazz that includes bebop, standards, and even funk.
McBride, a Grammy Award-winning musician, is a repeat visitor to Miller, having previously graced their stage.
Melissa Smey, executive director of the Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre, said McBride is “warm, personable, funny, and smart,” and said that McBride’s personality shines through his performances, creating a relaxed environment in the theater.
“If this is your first experience coming to a concert, this would be a great one to come to as a first-time audience member,” Smey said.
Smey also said that she is thrilled to introduce Warren Wolf to the Columbia community, having heard him perform four years ago. Smey remembers being taken aback by Wolf’s talent.
“I’ve wanted to work with him at Miller Theatre. He’s a young and upcoming musician and it’s the idea that he’ll play this gig with Christian, our audience will get a chance to know him, and then it would be a dream of mine to invite him and have him come back as a bandleader in the future,” she said.
This is a model Smey has previously used in Miller’s jazz series.
“We have a 688-seat venue to fill, and so working to see the development of an artist from being in a small venue to being a guest with a higher, profound musician, then the idea that they come here in this series playing as a sideman, and then we can, in a year or two, take a leap with them and give them an opportunity for a promotion and a boost in their career,” Smey said.
This concert, along with future concerts in the jazz series, is a way for the Columbia community to attend professional performances without having to worry about an age requirement or traveling to a faraway venue.
“A lot of our patrons like the idea that it’s a concert setting instead of a club setting,” Smey added. “Sometimes we’re able to bring things to the series here in a concert hall that a jazz club couldn’t do.”
Vijay Iyer and Craig Tabor’s duo piano project recently performed at Miller Theatre. Their act involved two Steinway grand pianos—something that would be physically impossible in a small jazz club. The theater venue gave the performers artistic freedom, without the constraint of size or space.
“We’re on the campus, we are a campus venue, and one of the things that is really important for us is audience development and the idea of bringing new audiences to the entire range of programming,” Smey said.
The performance will take place Saturday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. With a valid CUID, students can purchase up to two discounted tickets for the performance.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that this was McBride's second performance at Miller, when he has really performed there more times; and that students could receive one discounted and one free ticket with their CUID. In fact, both tickets will be sold at a discounted price, and the article has been updated accordingly. Spectator regrets the error.