World-acclaimed Bassist Cecil McBee was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a community of rich and varied musical roots. His musical career started in high school, where he first played the clarinet. He and his sister Shirley soon gained local notoriety performing clarinet duets at concerts around the state. By the age of 17, he began to experiment with the string bass and played steadily at local nightclubs with top Jazz and Rhythm and Blues groups.
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