Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Christian Scott: Anthem...

Yikes, the last time I posted anything here was the 9th of August! Whilst I'm certain that there won't be anybody, anywhere in the world, currently experiencing withdrawal symptoms as they're starved of new material, it's still a little bit more of a gap than I'd like. So what's my excuse?

Really there isn't one. Things have certainly been busy, and a new batch of releases for the next edition of Jazz Journal (seven in total) has accounted for most of my time at the computer. The good weather has seen me getting out a bit more on my road bike, and my relative lack of fitness and advancing age has lengthened the recovery time between rides. Spending far less time at the computer in a typical evening to make the most of our evenings at home is another factor, so I suppose it's fair to say that there's no single excuse, but lots of reasons why postings aren't more regular.

To get things back on course again, here's a write up of a disc by Christian Scott which complements the Wallace Roney piece quite well. It went into Jazz Review some time last year, and with the demise of that magazine it'd be nice to post the remaining reviews in my archives over the coming months. After that it'll be back to Rubberneck and Avant.

Next major jazz event has to be the re-issue of Horace Tapscott's Dark Tree, though I'm almost tempted to venture north again to see Tommy Smith and Gary Burton doing a Wayne Shorter programme. If only it wasn't for that damn big band...


Litany Against Fear; Void; Anthem; Re:; Cease Fire; Dialect; Remains Distant; Uprising; Katrina’s Eyes; The 9; Like That; Anthem (Post-diluvial Adaptation).

Walter Smith III (ts); Louis Fouché (as); Christian Scott (t, cn, flh, p); Aaron Parks (ky), Matt Stevens (g); Luques Curtis and Esperanza Spalding (b); Marcus Gilmore (d); Brother J of X-Clan (voc on 12).

Perhaps the most enduring legacy of Miles Davis is seen today in the number of trumpeters still seeking to popularise a blend of jazz, rock, funk and hip-hop. From Ron Miles through to Wallace Roney, Erik Truffaz and Nils Petter Molvaer, many have ‘plugged-in’ and tried their luck. Almost to a man they’ve improved on Miles’ latter day efforts – let’s face it, his final decade was pretty lightweight – and so it is with Grammy nominated Christian Scott.

Rewind That (Concord, 2006) deserved its place in my end of year ‘best of’ list, and the same post-rock rhythms, inter-woven rock guitar lines and doom-laden pedal chords are all found here. Written in the wake of Hurricane Katrina - Scott is himself a Crescent City native - this is a disc pregnant with emotion. From the opening chords of ‘Litany Against Fear’, a pensively brooding melancholia is laced with the optimism of Scott’s declamatory trumpet. ‘Anthem’ starts with the kind of urgent piano vamp that Matthew Shipp would recognise, before settling into a beautifully reflective groove that could play for hours. The impetus behind the sombre ‘Katrina’s Eyes’ should be obvious, whilst ‘The 9’ stands out with a more upbeat and overtly ‘jazz’ feel. ‘Like That’ adds moody reverb-laden Rhodes to the mix, though Aaron Parks’ sentimental solo is a little cloying. A reprise of ‘Anthem’, this time offering the thoughtful polemic of rapper Brother J of X-Clan, closes out this impressively mature and coherent statement and programmatically it makes perfect sense.

With his fat, furry tone, Scott could no doubt hold his own in any neo-con blowing session. That would somehow waste his talents. He already has a very personal music, both of its time and ‘in the tradition’. Too early to speak of his place in the pantheon of great, he’s nevertheless doing just fine for now, thank you.

Fred Grand

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