Friday, August 17, 2012

Christian Scott Christian aTunde Adjuah Concord Music 2012

"Rumble young man, rumble..." - Muhammad Ali.
Love him or hate him Ali was a man of passion much like Christian Scott. Bottom line, he made you think. So does Scott. I admire that. When it comes to politics we are polar opposites but that is o.k. too. Music is the common denominator.
Oddly enough that particular quote came to mind in reading Scott's liner notes. In the early to mid 80's the phrase "young lions of jazz" was tossed around somewhat carelessly with the Marsalis brothers being the perhaps the only two of the bunch to have anything close to a viable career today. Wynton Marsalis needs to be watching his six because there is indeed a young lion of jazz from New Orleans, plays trumpet and is gaining ground at an alarming pace.

Christian Scott's liner notes are as captivating as this double disc release. Scott's opinion of critics is at times less than favorable calling them a distraction. Understandable. A good critic offers a shared perspective and much like the artist and their finished work, what happens next is up to you. I appreciate Scott's rather candid comments as they came from the heart and without an ounce of pretentiousness or the polarizing platforms that similar artists have attempted  to use while perhaps ultimately losing a portion of their audience. Social media is a killer in the hands of the unskilled or those looking to grind a political axe instead of concentrating on their music. Christian Scott's perspective is forthright and honest which is as refreshing if not as ground breaking as Christian aTUNDE ADJUAH, the new release. Scott does go on to take issue with the label limitation of the genre of improvisational music we know as jazz. Scott's issue and thoughtful comments are well founded as his primary concern is the placement of limitations on the artist simply based on the name of the genre. Sub genres have dominated jazz from day one with big band, swing, bebop, hard bop, post bop, smooth jazz, fusion and the list goes on. The only limitations of genre are the limitations that the artist willingly accepts. Christian Scott rises above that with a flavor he refers to as "stretch music." Call it what you will on the back of virtually all jazz discs flooding the market you will find the words "file under jazz" stamped so the concern over the genre as a whole is a self imposed limitation by any artist that chooses to subscribe to that polarizing school of thought. The new release finds Scott looking past the specifics of genre by attempting to shatter the genre glass ceiling while transcending the expected and not losing the form and functionality of what we consider modern jazz and here is where Scott excels!

Scott may well be the most creative and adaptable trumpet player in the United States today. On a global scale Scott would be in most critics top ten lists with ease. As a younger musician, Scott walks that social/political tightrope with only the occasional hiccup. Within the new release we find ballads that sound like timeless classics, ambient soundscapes, smoldering guitar for rock infused texture and the clarion calls and anguished wails of a young trumpet phenoms coming out party. A great many of the tunes here run the social/political table from ethnic cleansing to post Katrina to the AIDS patient from San Francisco who may have well been cured thanks to an experimental treatment in Berlin. The ebb and flow on the release borders on brilliant and with all the sonic stratosphere not to mention topical issues of the day it would be easy for Scott to take the more self indulgent approach but that never happens. There is very much a working band feel to this release. The dramatic cover art is a reflection of Scott's Afro-Native American Culture of New Orleans and the man he has become today. The cover art much like the release is a celebration of the willingness to forge new paths. Today, Christian Scott is playing at a level that contemporaries twenty years his senior can hope to reach one day. Call it jazz, stretch, post modern but this is a self portrait of an improvisational artist coming into his own. A honest portrait of the post modern Miles Davis of our time. The name change makes this a very personal release for Christian, a man who appreciates his past but looks to the future. We should all be so lucky.

Tracks: Disc One - Fatima Aisha Rokero 400; New New Orleans; Kuro Shinobi; Who They Wish I Was; Pyrrhic Victory Of aTunde Adjuah; Spy Boy; Flag Boy; Vs. Kleptocratic Union; Kiel; Of Fire; Dred Scott; Danziger. Disc Two - The Berlin Patient; Jihad Joe; Van Gogh; Liar Liar; I Do; Alkebu Lan; Bartlett; When Marissa Stands Her Ground; Cumulonimbus; Away; The Red Rooster; Cara.

Personnel: Christian aTunde Adjuah: trumpet, siren, sirenette, reverse flugel; Matthew Stevens: guitars; Lawrence Fields: piano, fender rhodes, harpsichord; Kristopher Keith Funn: bass; Jamire Williams: drums.
Kenneth Whalum III (I Do); Corey King: trombone (Of Fire), (Liar, Liar), (When Marissa Stands Her Ground), (Away); Louis Fouche: alto sax (Of Fire), (When Marissa Stands Her Ground).