Listening to……Christian Scott

After Donald Byrd and Freddie Hubbard, it’s time to move on to the work of another trumpeter, this time from a much younger generation – Christian Scott is only in his mid-20’s and is already making quite an impact.  I have discussed other prodigies here before now – most notably Aaron Parks ( see 14/12/09), who just happens to contribute piano & keyboards to ‘Anthem‘, Scott’s 2007 album on Concord and his third as a leader.

Christian Scott is a New Orleans native and like Allen Toussaint ( see 15/12/09) is very concerned with the effect that Hurricane Katrina had on his home town, something that comes through strongly on ‘Anthem’, particularly on the ‘rap’ version of the title track that closes the album.  I have little time for rap, I’m afraid, but this one (about Katrina) is quite effective.  Scott’s uncle is Donald Harrison Jr, a sax player who (strangely enough) played at the 2009 Essaouira Festival that I have just written about at some length.  I didn’t get to see Donald Harrison in Morocco but am aware of his work with Roy Haynes to name but one.

Much seems to be made of Scott’s ‘fashion sense’ and though he won’t be the first jazz trumpeter to see himself as a bit of a clothes-horse, he will find (as Miles Davis did) that whilst clothes might make the man, they have little impact on his skills as a trumpeter.  Talking of which, much seems to be made of Scott’s ability to use his horn to mimic the sound of the human voice – what he calls ‘the Whisper Technique’.  I’m afraid that my lack of musicianly status is letting me down again here, because what I hear in Scott’s playing is the same kind of breathiness that one might associate with Miles Davis, Clifford Brown and Kenny Wheeler, nothing more or less.  He is clearly a gifted musician and doesn’t really need gimmicky technical claims like this to increase his stature.

Oh come on Christian…..I mean this is SO  1970’s…..

So, having dealt with the superficial aspects of the man, what we are left with is the trumpeter and the composer and this is where Scott scores heavily on both counts.  He has surrounded himself with a talented bunch of sidemen on ‘Anthem’ and they help deliver a fine album which needs no hype or nonsense to recommend it.  Scott has a rich and vigorous tone which probably suggests Donald Byrd and Clifford Brown in terms of timbre and he is clearly a fine player.  However, it is his compositions and arranging skills that impress me the most. ‘Anthem’ offers great space for the likes of Aaron Parks, guitarist Matt Stevens and alto player Louis Fouche to stretch out alongside Scott in some lengthy pieces such as the title track, ‘Katrina’s Eyes’ and ‘Like that’.

Christian Scott, once again in ‘badass’ mode on the cover of ‘Anthem’…..Bless the boy…

Scott has a new album on the way for Concord in 2010 and at his current rate of development, we can expect something special.  Hopefully, he’ll also concentrate on his skills as a player and arranger and leave the marketing bullshit to someone else….


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