Christopher McBride, Ramon Review
by Nolan DeBuke
Christopher McBride is a jazz saxophonist and composer based in Harlem. McBride is releasing his sophomore release titled Ramon. The new album is a soul-stirring presentation of thirteen songs that take you on a musical journey through his childhood memories, infusing the air with a rich blend of contemporary R&B, post-bop structures, and irresistible swing. McBride’s saxophone, accompanied by JS Williams on trumpet, Jonathan Edward Thomas on piano, Noah Jackson on bass, Cedric Easton on drums, Morgan Burrs and Bobby Broom on guitar, J Hoard’s vocals, Kenny Bentley on tuba, Corey A. Wallace on trombone, and the keys of Luke Carlos O’Reiley, as they come together to create a stirring sound in Ramon.
Many genres intersect through the music, “Lady D” channels the hard bop style of a saxophone and trumpet front line through an upbeat swing feel. The well-written melody is a stirring tribute to the indomitable spirit of Dianna McBride, McBride’s mother. Eschewing the traditional balladry often reserved for maternal devotion, this vibrant anthem captures the essence of a woman whose life has been marked by an irrepressible zest for adventure and an unwavering resolve. The theme has a unique vivacity as the ensemble channels its extraordinary energy to create a fierce, unapologetic, bold musical experience throughout the composition.
“Bronx Unchained” is a mesmerizing jazz experience that marries the soulful essence of New Orleans with the pulsating energy of the Bronx. The captivating chemistry between McBride and Williams is based on their flawless interplay that paints a vivid auditory landscape. Thomas’ piano solo is stirring and builds to an up-tempo swing feel for Williams’ solo. McBride’s impassioned improvisation takes center stage, infusing the track with a modern jazz vernacular that speaks directly to your soul. Embrace the allure of “Bronx Unchained” and let it transport you to the very essence of jazz.
In conclusion, Christopher McBride’s sophomore album, Ramon, is a captivating exploration of the jazz saxophonist’s musical influences and life experiences. Each track is a testament to his exceptional talent and the undeniable synergy shared among the ensemble of skilled musicians. Standout pieces like “Lady D” and “Bronx Unchained” showcase the power of music to tell his stories. The blend of contemporary R&B, post-bop, and Swing elements creates a fresh yet timeless sound that will undoubtedly resonate with jazz aficionados and new listeners. Take advantage of the opportunity to embark on this unforgettable journey with McBride and his talented collaborators, and let Ramon be the soundtrack to your own adventures in jazz.