Born: May 19, 1935 Primary Instrument: Bass, acoustic
Cecil McBee - acoustic double bass
Cecil McBee was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His musical career began at high school, where he played the clarinet. By the age of 17 and after receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in music education, Cecil had begun to experiment with the string bass and played steadily at local night clubs with top groups. His musical education at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, was interrupted by his induction into the US army. Here he spent two years as the conductor of the 158th Band at Fort Knox, Kentucky. There he developed a personal study of the possibilities of bass composition and improvisation. By the time he graduated from college, Cecil realized that although he had prepared for a career in education, he was more inspired by jazz improvisation.
Because of this, Cecil decided to live in Detroit, then one of the most powerful jazz communities in the world. Within a year, he joined the Paul Winter Sextet and moved with them to New York.
After McBee joined up with the Paul Winter Sextet, he earned international acclaim in the mid-’60s touring with Charles Lloyd and Pharoah Sanders. He went on to perform around the world with such artists as Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, Miles Davis, Bobby Hutcherson, Keith Jarrett, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins, and Joe Henderson. The recipient of two NEA composition grants, McBee has written works that are performed worldwide and have been recorded by Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Charles Tolliver, and many others. He won a Grammy in 1989 for his performance of Blues for John Coltrane and was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 1991. McBee is now working on a book about technique for string bass improvisation.
Recordings and compositions on Blue Note, Atlantic, Impulse, United Artists, Strata East, Flying Dutchman, Enja, Galaxy, Gramavision, RPR, Choice, RCA, Columbia.