The Collection

Christian Scott

Concord, 2014

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


It is certain by now that jazz trumpeter Christian Scott is a spiritual descendant of Miles Davis.

Five studio albums in (one a double disc), plus a live disc and a collaboration effort, have marked Scott’s output over the last 11 years, and in that time he has inherited many of Davis’ spiritual and sociological traits while carving out a modern niche of his own. If you haven’t heard of Scott, The Collection is worth seeking out even for casual jazz fans to become acquainted with the man and his music.

This 2014 effort draws more or less equally and non-chronologically from Scott’s first four albums plus one track from 2008’s Live At Newport to give a balanced look at the trumpeter’s career. And for those unfamiliar, the song titles give an indication of where Scott’s heart and soul lies: “The Uprising,” “American’t,” “Cease Fire,” “Jenacide (The Inevitable Rise And Fall Of The Bloodless Revolution),” “Litany Against Fear,” “Spy Boy/Flag Boy,” etc. There aren’t many jazz musicians speaking out about society’s issues today, which automatically makes Scott more interesting than many of his peers.

There is a through-line socially and musically through the songs as well. The two selected from the 2006 debut Rewind That are tentative but melodic and melancholy, employing a bit of electric guitar but sounding similar to other Concord jazz artists of the time; of the two, “Rewind That” is the superior piece.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But by 2007, Scott had already become socially aware, standing defiantly on the cover of Anthem in a leather coat and holding his trumpet on the messy streets of his hometown New Orleans, which was still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. The music followed suit, too, at turns bittersweet, angry, and hopeful, drawing on strands of jazz, rock, R&B, and hip-hop to create a minor masterpiece; fully one-third of The Collection draws from this disc. The only major lapse in judgment is the exclusion of “Dialect,” a droning, razor-sharp piece as intense as “Like That” is serene, though only the latter is included here. “Anthem” would have been a good choice, too, particularly the hip-hop version with Brother J’s rap. But if you like what hear on this disc, Anthem is definitely the next disc to pick up.

From there – following the Newport live disc – Scott released 2010’s Yesterday You Said Tomorrow, which flourished a social conscience with songs like “K.K.P.D.” (Ku Klux Police Department, not included here) and “American’t.” The liner notes indicate Scott’s desire to recall the greats of the past – Davis, chiefly – while remaining firmly, defiantly modern. The disc mostly succeeded, although only “The Eraser” is as memorable as the best work from Anthem. By now, Scott also had found some new players for his band, with only Matthew Stevens remaining on guitar from the Rewind That days.

He also had begun to embrace his skin color, removing the Scott from his last name and calling himself Christian aTunde ADJuah. This was also the name of his next album, a sprawling double-disc 23-song effort that has three songs represented here: the skittish “The Red Rooster,” the effervescent, driving “When Marissa Stands Her Ground,” and “Spy Boy/Flag Boy,” which is sort of a combination of the two. On both of the latter songs, Scott’s solos are equaled by Jamire Williams’ knotty, rhythmic drum patterns, which propel the songs forward and never allow the listener to settle. The whole band is solid, of course, but it’s Scott and Williams who really push the limits here.

Not for nothing has Scott called his work “stretch music,” meaning he is well aware of the great jazz of the past and has no desire to copy it but to include as much modern music (and social issues) as possible in the jazz framework. The Collection bears out the first decade of his goal, and if 2015’s electronica-heavy Stretch Music and 2017’s politically-charged Ruler Rebel are any indication, Mr. Scott is just getting started. Good on him. Check this disc out.

Rating: B

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