Since his major label debut in 2006, prodigious trumpeter Christian Scott has carved out an enviable reputation as one of the most gifted musicians of his generation, with an ability to combine several genres to stunning effect.
This has resulted in a number of impressive accolades including a Grammy nomination, topping the Downbeat 2009 Critic’s Poll for Trumpeter of the Year and collaborations with the likes of Prince, Jill Scott, Mos Def, DJ Muggs and UK rapper Scroobius Pip. Scott’s sharp image and striking persona even earned him the opportunity to appear in Hollywood movies, alongside George Clooney in the film Leatherheads and Anne Hathaway in Jonathan Demme’s critically acclaimed Rachel Getting Married.
Scott’s profile is set to soar to unprecedented heights with the release of his fourth record, Yesterday You Said Tomorrow, an album that blurs the boundaries of jazz, hip-hop and rock. The album was recorded and engineered by the legendary Rudy Van Gelder at his renowned Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs. Van Gelder, who is known as one of the greatest recording engineers in jazz history for his work with John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock among others, says of Scott’s new album that, “this is one of the best things I have done in a long, long time.”
Born in New Orleans in 1983, Scott has always been acutely aware of the legacy of jazz and its role within the broader context of 20th century history. Regarding the new album, Scott says, “I wanted to create a musical backdrop that referenced everything I liked about the music from the ‘60s – Miles Davis’ second quintet, Coltrane’s quartet, Mingus’ band – coupled with music made by people like Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix. The music from that era just had more depth, whether it was jazz or rock or folk or whatever. The political and social climate at the time was much heavier, and there were a few musicians who weren’t afraid to reference that climate in their work. The ones who did that – and at the same time captivated people in a way that referenced their own humanity – were the ones who ended up lasting the longest.”
Yesterday You Said Tomorrow references a saying that Scott’s grandfather would use to emphasize the importance of recognizing the work at hand and making the most of the available time to complete it. Aided by guitarist Matthew Stevens, pianist Milton Fletcher Jr, bassist Kristopher Keith Funn and drummer Jamire Williams, Scott addresses the issues head on, regardless of how uncomfortable the subject matter may be. The album opens with K.K.P.D., a track full of dark harmonies and tense, competing polyrhythms. The title stands for “Ku Klux Police Department,” a reference to what Scott calls the “phenomenally dark and evil” attitude held by some of the local police toward African American citizens of New Orleans when he was growing up – and the similar dynamic that persists there and in other cities to this day.
Scott wipes away some of the darker shades on The Eraser, the melodic second track penned by singer-songwriter Thom Yorke, co-founder and frontman of Radiohead (“The Eraser” is the title track to Yorke’s 2006 solo debut). The aptly-titled piece resets the tone of the overall recording, states Scott. “With that song, we’re erasing the issue that was raised in the previous song, and then the album starts,” he says. “Those first two songs are very much a part of the album, but they’re there to establish an environment where you’re willing to listen to whatever else we have to say, because you’ve been opened up to the validity of the original argument.”
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