This week, we take a closer look at the latest phase in the career of trumpeter Christian Scott, who will be in St. Louis to perform Wednesday, October 17 through Saturday, October 20 at Jazz at the Bistro
The 29-year-old New Orleans native a couple of months ago released the two-disc, 23-track album Christian aTunde Adjuah. The title refers to the new last name Scott has adopted in acknowledgement of and tribute to his African heritage, and the record - his sixth major label release as a leader - is not only his most expansive in terms of sheer length, but also is being called by critics his most personal and musically ambitious to date.
The nephew of saxophonist Donald Harrison, Scott was something of a teenage phenom, entering Berklee College of Music at age 17 and completing his degree in just three years while also touring with his uncle and performing, recording and self-releasing music with his own band.
Though Scott subsequently has done some work as a sideman with Harrison, and has guest-starred on recordings by Mike Clark, David Benoit, Marcus Miller, the hip-hop group X Clan and some others, he's mostly eschewed the traditional approach to jazz apprenticeship to concentrate on making his own music. His band in recent months often has included St. Louis native and fellow Berklee grad Lawrence Fields on piano, as well as long time bassist Kris Funn, drummer Jamire Williams, and guitarist Matthew Stevens, who seems to play a big role in setting up the texture and feel of many of Scott's recent compositions.
That's the lineup of musicians you can see and hear up above in today's first video clip, a version of the song Spy Boy" from Scott's new album that was recorded last November in a concert on the Berklee campus in Boston. ("Spy boys" are the advance scouts/lookouts for tribes of New Orleans' black Indians" when they parade through the streets on Mardi Gras day. Growing up in New Orleans, Scott - who appears in traditional Indian garb on the cover of the new album - and his twin brother Kiel served as spy boy" and flag boy" for the tribe headed by his uncle Donald Harrison.)
Down below, you can hear another piece from Scott's new album called New New Orleans (King Adjuah Stomp)," which was recorded earlier this year at the North Sea Jazz Festival with the same band save for Fields, who's supplanted by John Escreet on piano.
Below that, it's a version of Scott's composition KKPD," again featuring the same band except this time with Milton Fletcher on piano. This was recorded in 2010 at the Festival de Jazz de San Sebastián in Spain.
The fourth clip showcases Scott's ballad skills on Isadora," also recorded in 2012 at the North Sea festival. The fifth video is from 2011, and shows Scott on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live playing Angola, LA & The 13th Amendment" from his previous album Yesterday You Said Tomorrow.
To wrap things up, today's sixth clip is the electronic press kit for Christian aTunde Adjuah, which features Scott talking about the album as well some brief musical excerpts.
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.