Ronald Bruner Jr. – Triumph (2017)

Ronald Bruner Jr. - Triumph (2017)
Artist: Ronald Bruner Jr.
Album: Triumph
Genre: Soul, R’n’B, Vocal Jazz
Label: World Galaxy/Alpha Pup Records
Released: 2017
Quality: FLAC (tracks)
Tracklist:
True Story
Take the Time
She’ll Never Change
Geome Deome (ft. George Duke)
Whenever
Doesn’t Matter
Open the Gate
One Night
Sensation (ft. Mac Miller and Danielle Withers)
To You / For You
Chick’s Web

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Talk about success breeding success, Ronald Bruner Jr’s list of friends in the music industry is nothing if not impressive. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Chick Corea, Kamasi Washington, Flying Lotus, George Duke, and of course younger brother Stephen Bruner (aka Thundercat), and that’s not counting the number of generation-defining acts he’s worked with, if Ronald has a single competitive bone in his body it’s not hard to see why he’s a Grammy-award winning drummer in his own right. Triumph is a drummer’s album through and through, actualized through a lens of deep fusion, soul, and jazz. Having been recorded during Kamasi Washington’s The Epic sessions and partially produced by Thundercat, the music of both those artists comes through heavy on Triumph. Listeners looking for experimentation within these notes will be disappointed but the groove that exists is deep, and can cut through your whole body if you let it. Unfortunately, despite the obscene talent that went into its creation, Triumph largely relegates itself to a drop in the ocean of contemporary funk and soul releases of the last 5 years.

Bruner’s chops on his kit however are absolutely undeniable. Interspersed amongst the record are jam (show-off) tracks which showcase Bruner’s speed and compositional savvy within the framework of different styles, a rather novel decision within the record and one that will please fans of the improvisational roots of jazz. The rest of Triumph consists primarily of RnB songs that range from soulfully captivating to a dull trudge through the motions. Bruner himself employs a vocal falsetto strangely similar to his brother Stephen and touches on exactly the topics expected of his music. One thing Triumph does well is deliver a variety of tones and moods. The show-off tracks don’t subjugate the rest of the album despite their length and the rest of the songs exhibit enough variety within their constraints to make Triumph engaging. Even a random trap tangent, while more than questionable considering the rest of the record, at least grabs your attention. For whatever reason both Stephen and Ronald are using their amazing talents and through creative decision and spotty songwriting shoehorning themselves into a room where the comfort of contemporary jazzy soul music resides. With Triumph Ronald Bruner Jr. is positioned nicely in that room next to the mini-fridge and thermostat, not quite ready to peer outside that singular door, but with the addition of some sensuous, catchy RnB tunes and the amazingly well-conceived jam tracks, he might be getting a little antsy in that chair.
Review by Casus belli

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