Christian Scott is another New Orleans trumpeter but brings an urgency and modern twist to his music not often heard in modern jazz.
Guitars and the Fender Rhodes electric piano pop up liberally here, weaving in and out of Scott's trumpeting, making this quite an intruiging listen at times. Sadly, it's those flourishes that make this interesting, because without it the jazz here is rather mundane, if solid.
Of course, the 22-year-old owes his debts to the great trumpeters, and celebrates that legacy while adding his own improvisation. At its core, jazz has the capability to lift spirits and celebrate life, something Scott taps into here often, but there's that feeling of "been there" pervading here.
The highlights are definitely amazing - "Say It" takes what contemporary jazz is trying to do and does it correctly, while the remake of "So What" is interesting if not particularly new, though that rubbery bassline certainly is catchy. A snaky rock-guitar arpeggio opens and winds through "Rewind That," which uses off-beat drumming and frequent pauses in Scott's solo to get the mood across. "Lay In Vein" and "Say It" are similar numbers, using rock guitar parts instead of piano to set the mood for Scott's solos.
Every jazz release needs at least one drawn-out lounge piece, and here it's "Rejection," where the players admirably restrain the volume for seven minutes -- moreover, it's noteworthy in that each player gets a chance to shine without overpowering the emotion in the track. Solos don't need to be loud or flashy to be powerful, and the septet proves that here.
Yet when all is said and done, there's a sense of incompleteness, the thought that Scott and co. wanted to explore new territory but hit a wall and so sunk back into mediocrity. They hint at greatness with the aforementioned tracks, "Suicide" and "Rejection," but the res is forgettable, by-the-books jazz. It's not bad by any means, but hardly revelatory, making the points that are great seem all that much greater.
Scott may not be around long unless he keeps up the territory he has staked out here, but when this group is on they're as good as any modern jazz artists. For newcomers into the genre, this might be a good place to start until you're ready to work backward to Coltrane and Davis, and for purists this might be interesting simply because of the electric guitar on a third of these tracks, which make this disc alternately interesting and average.