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.
Because of the great promise he showed on the clarinet, Cecil was offered a full scholarship to attend Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio and upon his arrival to college, he was immediately embraced as both a fine clarinetist and a promising young bassist. Cecil found the academic atmosphere extremely inspiring, both towards his educational needs as a potential instructor as well as bass performer. Unfortunately, his college education was interrupted by his induction into the U.S. Army where 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.
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