Christian Scott – Christian aTunde Adjuah (Album Review)

Having claimed the names aTunde and Adjuah of West African Heritage, Christian Scott is now Christian ATunde Adjuah. His style of music is both a continuation and an expansion. The word Christian likes to use is not expansion, but “stretch”, taking rock or hip hop, and stretching the limits and possibilities. In jazz, that’s what it’s all about. So, the musical concept for this release is a classic jazz concept.
“Christian aTunde Adjuah” debuted July 31st on the Concord Records label. Overall, the trumpet playing is brilliant. The strongest influences that I could recognize are indeed two trumpet players you may already know, or wish to discover — Miles Davis, and especially ECM recording artist. Kenny Wheeler for composition and the phrasing that is unbridled by time signatures.
There is a strong opening fanfare on the first cut, “Fatima Aisha Rokero 400”. The trumpet is played with an intense tone, and with a sense of making a statement or announcement. And behind this great playing and power, there is a harmonic beauty. The track actually could have been a ballad, but Christian chose to play it “over strong.” “Who They Wish I Was” is a very cool track, but the opening quickly gives away the answer as he immediately begins playing like Miles Davis. The rhythm section uses acoustic and cool phrasing effects. Jamire Williams is excellent on drums with a very jazzy urban beat. Christian sounds great over the open changes with a harmonic muted trumpet. This is definitely one of my favorite tracks on the double CD, hands down.
On the cut “Pyrrhic Victory of Atunde Adjuah”, there’s an emphasis on loose rock with great clusters of chords from guitar and piano, and the groove in an uptempo beat is very nicely done. “Spy Boy Flag Boy”, uses a semi march with a well written melody played by Christian over some very dramatic chords, and the melody is doubled by the guitar. Very cool tune.
“Vs. The Kleptocratic Union (Ms.McDowell’s Crime) is a calm and focused melody with guitar harmonizing the main line, and playing a very lyrical solo. The piano switches from swirling Rhodes during the melody to acoustic piano to comp the guitar solo, and the rhythm section breaks it down like the first class musicians they are. Lawrence Fields takes
the next solo and has a terrific solo style, then the group returns to the main theme.
“Dred Scott” is a melody that walks through the changes in its own stride, not driven by the time of a beat, but rather the creative expression of the Trumpet, and and guest artist trombonist, Corey King. The drummer is a ablaze with a wall of sound from his drums and cymbals, joined by bass and acoustic piano agitating strong flowing lines of open harmony until the last moment of silence. Listeners will find this to be an incredibly sophisticated piece of work, and I was quite moved as I pondered the actual history that inspired this composition.
On “Danziger”, the trumpet and guitar are intertwined over a down tempo echoed piano pattern, and the drums and bass dramatically yield to Christian’s solo. As he increases his intensity, they are right there with him. One can really hear the
Kenny Wheeler influence here, but aTunde Adjuah is hitting with a stronger delivery. The guitar solo that follows reminds me of Julian Lage with Gary Burton on “Next Generation”. This is good stuff, and jazz lovers will find both discs to be equally pleasing to the senses and more than an ample amount of ingenuity to satisfy even the most discriminating jazz palates.
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