Christian Scott (trumpet)
Christian aTunde Adjuah (Blue Note; 2012)
Lawrence Fields (piano)
Kenneth Whalum (sax)
Matthew Stevens (guitar)
Corey King (trombone)
Kris Funn (bass)
Jamire Williams (drums)
Defying convention has been Christian Scott's mantra since probably the day he picked up the trumpet. But its definitely been his motis-operandi since his first record in 2007. Each of his albums builds on different themes and moments--social, spiritual, personal and political. Scott continues this tradition with his fifth album, Christian aTunde Adjuah.
aTunde Adjuah is his newly transformed name in Ghanaian. A spiritual and personal awakening of sort. Forget about the name for a moment and focus squarely on the music. This again is another strong diverse outing for the young trumpeter. As with most Scott numbers, "New New Orleans" is large and emotional. A soulful, passionate piece that tells the story for the city in which it is named and dedicated to. Scott's lines are sharp and bold surrounded by the swirling melody of Stevens' hypnotic guitar and the funky drum kit of Williams. It's the heartbeat of the city coming back to life.
"Who They Wish I Was" is a quiet piece with epic underpinnings. The repetitive nature of the delivery from Fields and Williams has a cinematic quality to it that draws you ever closer. Scott's horn is soft and doesn't rise too far above the mix. "vs the Kleptocratic Union" and "Dred Scott" both speak to injustices of society and the worst of our human nature. Steven's versatility is on display in "...Kleptocratic Union", as he sculpts blues-like tones that are lovely at every turn. "Dred Scott" is more suspenseful, with improvised and soaring lines that crash against each other like waring factions with no end.
"I Do" develops a soulfulness and romanticism through the exchanges of Whalum and Scott which are accentuated by Williams' heavy kit. Romantic and still powerful. "Alkebu Lan" highlights the African influence upon Scott during this session. Its a nice mixture of African beats and American funk. But it's a midtempo piece that never goes over the top.
There are times when I felt Scott's boldness sounded more European than American. "The Red Rooster" and "Cara" both have a rolling melody on piano and sonic resonance of Scott's trumpet are good example of this. They're spacious and delicate with a tone is very intimate.
Many people may find the expansiveness of aTunde Adjuah a little hard to swallow. But I feel its another example of a young talent that is really exploring new ideas and trying to find different themes to push our definitions of what jazz is and can be. A great effort for most musicians. Christian Scott is certainly achieving that and continues to look upward and out.