June 20, 2024

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CD review: Christopher McBride – Ramon – 2023: Video, CD cover

Perhaps the American saxophonist Christopher McBride is not yet as famous as his countryman and fellow jazz bassist Christian McBride, but his new album Ramon shows that it’s time for jazz lovers to remember and learn to distinguish between both of these names.

Christopher was born and raised in Chicago, where he first entered the professional scene in 2007. In 2012, he released his debut album Quatuor de Force, and a year later he moved to New York. Here he plunged into the vibrant jazz life of the Big Apple as a musician and teacher. McBride worked with, among others, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Heath, Billy Preston, and participated in the recording of the Grammy-winning big band album Generation Gap Orchestra. But it’s only now that it’s time to record a new album of your own.

Ramon is a completely original work of the musician, for the recording of which he involved a large group of colleagues from the New York scene. It can be said that Christopher McBride continues the African-American line in jazz, closely associated with such other areas of black music as rhythm and blues or hip-hop. Stylistically, his music is close to the modern neo-pop mainstream.

Christopher’s sound is compared by the press to Cannonball Odderley, but when I listened to the opening piece of the Lady D album, I was more likely to recall an earlier jazz genius, Charlie Parker. It is interesting that McBride dedicated this very energetic composition with the sparkling sound of the saxophone to his mother. As he himself notes, usually such things are of a sentimental ballad nature, but, given the nature of his mother, he decided to make the dedication just like that.

Another non-standard move by McBride is the introduction of his ensemble (Welcome), which he put not as the first, but as the second track of the album. Next, Christopher makes a whole journey through the jazz centers of black music in the United States. In the composition Bronx Unchained, for my taste, one of the best on the album, he sings of the famous black district of New York, the birthplace of hip-hop, Dope (For the steppers) is an anthem to his native Chicago, and in Girl Get ‘Em goes to New Orleans.

In this, in my opinion, the second peak of the album, the guest of the project turned out to be very appropriate – Kenny Bentley on the tuba, as if resurrecting the sound of the famous street orchestras of the legendary city.

The centerpiece of the album is McBride’s three-part suite Stand Your Ground, dedicated to the American-shattering 2012 murder in Florida of 17-year-old African-American teenager Trayvon Martin by a man who, according to him, acted in self-defense and was later acquitted by a jury.

The name of the suite is associated with the right of citizens to self-defense (Stand on your own) in many states, including Florida. Particularly strong is the first part of the suite with Noah Jackson’s bass solo, as if from a film noir soundtrack, and the final requiem in memory of the deceased.

What can you say about the album as a whole? Mature master, excellent saxophonist, talented composer Christopher McBride: get acquainted!

1 Lady D (5:44)
2 Welcome (2:15)
3 You Put A Smile On My Face (feat. Bobby Broom) (7:01)
4 Bronx Unchained (8:04)
5 Your Eyes Can’t Lie (3:53)
6 Intimacy (feat. Morgan Burrs) (4:47)
7 Postlude (1:57)
8 Stand Your Ground, Pt. 1 (Suspicion) (4:41)
9 Stand Your Ground, Pt. 2 (Confrontation) (4:21)
10 Stand Your Ground, Pt. 3 (In Memoriam: The Ballad Of Trayvon Martin) (4:26)
11 Dope (For The Steppers) (5:20)
12 Girl Get ‘Em (feat. Kenny Bentley) (5:24)
13 Your Eyes Can’t Lie (Instrumental) (6:10)

Christopher McBride: alto saxophone; JS Williams: trumpet; Jonathan Edward Thomas: piano; Noah Jackson: contrabass; Cedric Easton: drums; Bobby Broom: guitar [3]; Morgan Burrs: guitar [6]; J Hoard: vocals [5]; Kenny Bentley: tuba [10]; Corey A Wallace: trombone; Luke Carlos O’Reiley: piano [11] and keyboards.

Ramon | Christopher McBride

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