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Trumpeter Christian Scott Fights for the Future of Jazz

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The young jazz player has little patience for those who try to lay out rules or limitations on his chosen art form.

When asked about the state of jazz, Christian Scott's mood sours. “The [stuff] is garbage," said the New Orleans-born trumpeter, speaking by phone from San Francisco, his voice sharp, direct. “I mean, you want the truth?"

It's perhaps surprising to hear such a terse assessment coming from a 25-year-old who earned a 2006 Grammy nomination in the contemporary jazz category for his debut album, garnered rave reviews for its arresting follow-up, “Anthem," and just released a live CD documenting a performance at the famed Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island.

But Scott has no qualms about expressing his feelings on being held hostage by the history of the art form, which he finds particularly limiting.

“Most jazz musicians, they're funny," said Scott, who comes to Los Angeles for a series of shows today through Saturday at Catalina Bar & Grill. “They write this music and they edit themselves so heavily. If they have a phrase that's in nine [beats per measure], they'll change it to four. If they hear electric guitar as a texture, they'll change it to a piano part... I'm not willing to do that. If I hear it a certain way, that's the way it's going to be."

Mentored by his Uncle Donald Harrison, who in the 1980s played saxophone with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Scott has been immersed in the music since he was 13. He grew up studying at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and the Berklee College of Music, and his sense of history, not least of which is the cheeky nod toward Miles Davis in releasing an album called “Live at Newport," is impeccable.

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