Since time perpetually moves forward, all movement is technically forward movement. Everything is a form of progression. Experience gives texture to signature, though the elements of signature — those attributes that define the outward expression of persona — remain fundamentally intact because the everlasting battle of nature versus nurture will always end up in some sort of tie. When hearing Ruler Rebel, the first of three albums trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah will release this year as part of his Centennial Trilogy, in the context of his body of work, it’s apparent that this is the perfect example of the progression of his signature sound.
For years, Scott has been pushing forward with his approach to jazz music, which he refers to as Stretch music– a melding of jazz, hip-hop, rock, and various other musical influences. He has honed this approach through his various albums, pushing the boundaries of what jazz is capable of doing, and for that matter of what a horn player can do with his assorted personally designed horns. In so doing, not only has he put a name to what his signature is — his strides, his steps as he rises, just how he wants percussionists Corey Fonville and Joe Dyson Jr. to sound, his coo — but he has clearly established the field on which his musical creations play.
The title track starts things off with an energy indicative of the seriousness of he statement this album is, a bold declaration of this sound. “Phases” is one of those brilliant songs with that appears from out of a cloud rather than have a specific melody to it, one of those songs that works so well when it can pull such gripping form from nothingness as Cliff Hines’ guitar effects can so craftily do, particularly when intertwined with the earthy, soaring vocals of Sarah Elizabeth Charles. Few things express how this album is a step forward more than “Rise Again”, Allan Cole, aka Allmos’ remix of Stretch Music‘s “Sunrise in Beijing”, taking that same framework and flipping it with trap beats and Scott’s naturally subsequent new take. “Encryption” has the kind of spooky, mysterious vibe as if it were cut from Herbie Hancock’s The Spook Who Sat By the Door soundtrack.
His well-honed band once again execute Scott’s approach with great aplomb. Lawrence Fields never fails to impress on the keys, providing me yet another opportunity to describe his playing as shimmering.Joshua Crumbly and Lucques Curtis join in with longstanding Scott band member Kris Funn on bass duties through the album, indicating a hold to the constant signature Scott has held in his rhythm while still pushing to new influences. And it must be said again how important the dual percussive forces of Corey Fonville and Joe Dyson Jr. are on this album, bringing a trap sound in tandem that kicks things into overdrive, like the world’s stereo’s have heart palpitations.
Like many times with which I have referred to Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, a good friend of Nextbop and thus said with this clear disclosure out there, if there’s anyone gunning for that Miles Davis spot of innovative super artistic, epitome of cool trumpeter on the scene today, he would be at the head of the running. However, unlike Davis, who reinvented himself numerous times over his career, Scott moreso seems to push forward, not being an entirely new creature, but evolving like a Pokémon with the clear signs of the previous iteration shining through in the face. What we have here out today is one third of a collection of work that show what this present version of the artist Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah is, of where he’s been of where he’s going and everything else that peeks out over the hills of his trodden path, for he is a man who moves forward in time, as we all do, shaped by his experiences while staying quinticentially him.
Ruler Rebel, the latest album from trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and the first album of his 2017 Centennial Trilogy, is out now on Ropeadope Records.
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah – Trumpet, Siren, Sirenette, Reverse Flugelhorn, SPD-SX, Sampling, Sonic Architecture
Elena Pinderhughes – Flute
Lawrence Fields – Piano, Fender Rhodes
Luques Curtis – Bass
Kris Funn – Bass
Joshua Crumbly – Bass
Cliff Hines – Guitar
Corey Fonville – Drums, SPD-SX
Joe Dyson Jr. – Pan African Drums, SPD-SX
Weedie Braimah – Djembe, Bata, Congas
Chief Shaka Shaka – Dununba, Sangban, Kenikeni
Sarah Elizabeth Charles – Vocals
All songs written by Christian Scott, (Stretch Music Publishing – SESAC)
“Phases” written by Christian Scott, (Stretch Music Publishing – SESAC)
Sarah Elizabeth Charles, (Sarah Elizabeth Charles Music – ASCAP)
Cliff Hines, (Klyph Publishing – BMI)
“Rise Again” written by Christian Scott, (Stretch Music Publishing – SESAC)
Allan Cole, (Algorythmusic BMI)
Produced by Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and Chris Dunn
Executive Producer: Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah
Recorded April 16-21, 2016 by Matt Grondin and Nick Guttmann at The Parlor, New Orleans, LA
Mixed by Nick Guttmann at The Parlor, New Orleans, LA
Mastered by Paul Blakemore, Cleveland OH
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.