on 29 August 2012
As a young trumpeter Christian Scott has always sought to explore the wider possibilities of Jazz, as seen through the development of his work in 'Rewind That' (2006), 'Anthem' (2007) and here, reflecting a wider and deeply personal exploration of his social, cultural and ethnic roots. Having explored and acknowledged his past, Scott has taken the name Christan Atunde Adjuah, a change also reflected on the album cover, where Adjuah can be seen wearing the ceremonial regalia of Afro-Native Americans, known (as he has explained in interview) as, "the black or Mardi Gras Indians". This album is, as he has asserted, "the completion of my name". This willingness to self-define is further reflected in the liner notes accompanying the release, in which Adjuah writes of his unique approach to making music, found within the ideas of a 'Forecasting Cell' and 'stretch music', enshrining a willingness to stretch (not replace) Jazz's rhythmic, melodic and harmonic conventions. This is, under any circumstance, quite a statement of intent, and the question is does the album fulfil the promise?
The album opens with the bold statement of 'Fatima Aisha Rokero 400', with swirling, skittering drums rolls accompanying Adjuah's plaintive and soaring opening, before the music unfolds in a commemoration of a rape committed in Rokero. It is an uneasy listen, challenging, and even more so for being placed at the start of this double album. 'New New Orleans' is a paen to the emergence of New Orleans in the period post Hurricane Katrina, subject matter that Adjuah has previously referenced. 'Who They Wish I Was' will immediately remind listeners of the short lyrical phrasing of Miles Davis, with an insistent melodic motif that falls, in carefully spaced moments, as rhythmic rain. 'Phyrric Victory Of A tunde' is apparently a reference to the reaction of critics to Atunde's new name, an angular, twisting and turning exposition that remains unsettled throughout. 'Kiel' has been identified as a gentle portarit of Adjuah's brother, again allowing the space for moments of supremely sustained beauty. Disc two opens with the chugging rock influenced 'The Berlin Patient (CCR5)', whilst 'Jihad Joe' may possibly reference the phenomenon of American citizens taking up the cause of Jihad, a further example (perhaps) of Adjuah's willingness to tackle provocative subject matter. 'I Do' is a beautiful instrumental ballad, and one that could well attract the attentions of soul lovers (subjectively reminiscent of Herb Alpert's 'Making Love In The Rain' from the 'Keep Your Eye On Me' album). 'When Marissa Stands Her Ground' is urgent and bouncing, with subdued piano work and angry suggestive alto sax by Louis Fouche. The album concludes with 'Cara', a heartfelt and deeply moving tribute to Adjuah's mother.
So. Do you buy?
As a double disc release this is a carefully crafted and considered exposition of Adjuah's vision of Jazz, one that demands attention and effort on the part of the listener to fully embrace the breadth of the presentation. It is not hyperbole to recognise that there is something deeply moving at the end of the listening experience, made even more so once the dialogic character of the titles has been fully recognised. This is certainly not mere musical artifice, and whilst some of Adjuah's bolder assertions regarding his conceptualisation of Jazz may attract criticism, there can be no denying of the talent and supreme lyricism on display.
An album to savour and return to, rewarding with each visit.
on 27 July 2012
Saw this guy supporting George Benson, in Birmingham, recently: and was overawed by his (seemingly effortless) technique and musicality.
Stunningly mature trumpet-work; and wonderful musicianship from everyone backing him. If you love great modern jazz, or just the sound of an instrument being played to its full potential, this will, ahem, blow you away...!
on 12 November 2012
Too many artists simply go through the motions - even those that are hugely skilled. They don't stretch the boundaries, innovate, explore and challenge themselves and their fans. This guy does. He's a marvellous horn player with a deftly unique touch. The second CD is the better one, but both have sublime moments and I love the distinctly unique sound of creative exploration. What will this instrument do? Where will it take me the player and you the listener? Have a listen and see where you end up! You'll be in a far better place.