Christian McBride and New Jawn
(Ronnie Scott’s. 16 October 2023. First Set. Live review by Adam Sieff)
Christian McBride and New Jawn’s first set (of four) over a two-night stand at Ronnie Scott’s on Monday saw the quartet unexpectedly hit the stage as a trio. Double bassist McBride, tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland and drummer Nasheet Waits had left trumpeter Josh Evans in bed (with a bad stomach apparently) back at the hotel. As much as the audience was looking forward to seeing the full line-up, their positive reaction proclaimed that this was a fantastic set, full of inspired playing, genuine excitement and relaxed humour.
McBride was certainly looking relaxed in jeans and a polo shirt. The trio’s opening salvo of Tony Williams’ Love Song and Waits’ Ke-Kelly Sketch set the scene, with each musician making good use of the extra space. It’s the first time I’ve seen Waits play and I was blown away. He’s such a powerful player, constantly driving the others on. They continued with a wonderful version of Billy Strayhorn’s Chelsea Bridge, with Strickland’s final solo and ending run just beautiful, he was sensational the whole set. And it goes without saying that with McBride’s support, no pianist or guitar player is necessary, I’ve never seen him – or anyone – play better.
Next – and it felt like a spontaneous decision – was Joe Henderson’s Recorda Me with more great playing and a light-hearted attitude that was infectious. This was followed by the closing 12 bar which, as McBride quipped, could have been leading to anywhere, but found its joyful way into East Broadway Rundown by Sonny Rollins, the closing track from this year’s Prime album (Mack Avenue).
Like many others I left the club with my soul feeling a little lighter thanks to some great jazz music by three extraordinary musicians adapting with grace, ease, and considerable skill to the unforeseen. It may not have been planned, but I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this for the world.
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