Drummer Jimmy Macbride Thrives In Any Musical Situation


Jimmy Macbride is among the 25 artists DownBeat thinks will help shape jazz in the decades to come.

(Photo: Yuki Tei)

​Considering the environment in which he was raised, it’s not terribly surprising that Jimmy Macbride was creating rhythms as early as age 3. His mother, a visual artist, and his father, who was a composer, noticed the precocious child’s interests. “When I was very young, I started playing on some pots and pans at home,” Macbride said via videoconference. “My parents recognized, ‘Hey, I think Jimmy has some interest in percussion. So, maybe we can find a teacher for him.’”

They did find an instructor for the toddler, setting him on a path that would lead to a degree from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Carl Allen, Kenny Washington and other jazz titans. Nowadays, Macbride is an in-demand collaborator.

“When someone calls me for who I am as an artist, that is certainly the greatest compliment,” Macbride said. “When I look at the musicians that I admire and I aspire to be like, that’s the common thread: They can seemingly be in any kind of situation or any musical kind of group, and still, you always know that it’s them. They always sound like themselves.”

Macbride’s versatility is illustrated by his discography of more than 40 titles, including recent recordings by trombonist Nick Finzer, guitarists Nir Felder and Alex Goodman, pianists Eldar Djangirov and Manuel Valera, and saxophonists Roxy Coss and Troy Roberts.

Although he has not recorded a leader date yet, Macbride played a couple of 2019 shows at Smalls in New York, focusing on his own compositions. For the Dec. 4 show, he assembled a quartet with tenor saxophonist Ron Blake, pianist Shai Maestro and bassist Joshua Crumbly.

“It was great to see how everyone’s different personalities contributed to something that was mine—that I had conceived of,” Macbride said. “It was very exciting and rewarding.”

Many bandleaders who have hired Macbride could say the same thing. DB

This story originally was published in the November 2020 issue of DownBeat. Subscribe here.

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