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Christian McBride and Lee Smith cover the basses in conversation, in a vintage Father's Day special

Two generations of bassists, Christian McBride and Lee Smith, during a Father's Day conversation with WRTI.

A few years ago we invited Christian McBride and his father Lee Smith to the radio station to share in a conversation about Philadelphia’s expansive bass legacy. Thinking back, I recall that our conversation with Christian and Lee came close to getting derailed by the rigors and demands of Christian’s super busy life, but we found a way. The conversation with the two of them was staged in part to support an installment of a massive project for NPR's City Scenes series, titled Philadelphia's Best Of The Bass. The resulting article was presented as a detailed three-part rollout, but as you'll gather from the video, it actually only begins to tell the full story of how vast the lineage is.

Throughout my conversation with Christian and Lee, it was beautiful to witness a very complimentary level of love and respect as they reminisced about the family of a talented bassist from Philadelphia. I was touched when Christian paused to alert Lee that the late Philadelphia bassist Victor Bailey cited him as a primary influence. Hearing their account of their own "bass family trio" performances with Uncle Howard (Howard Cooper) at the Kimmel Center and later with Sun Ra Arkestra maestro Marshall Allen was both informative and revealing.

Revisiting this father and son conversation that connects through their shared passion for the music, and more specifically the bass, is a wonderful reminder of how fortunate dads are to have been presented the most extraordinary gift that life can offer. Hearing Christian utter, in the closing seconds of our conversation, that this interview was the first time that he and his father were interviewed together was absolutely priceless.

All the best, and Happy Father’s Day to all who have been granted the opportunity to carry the title. The brightest moments of my life have directly been associated with my three children. They have truly been a reason to live and have provided countless joyful experiences. Although their gift selections have improved drastically as they made their way into adulthood, it’s the time that we have shared together that resonates most.

J. Michael Harrison’s first radio show, WPEB’s “Is That Jazz” launched in June of 1993. In 1994 he began volunteering with WRTI as a production assistant. In 1996, J. Michael debuted his own program, The Bridge, which continues to air Friday evenings on WRTI.