Christian Scott - Anthem


Release date: September 18th 2007

Availability: CD, MP3, iTunes

Anthem cover

24 year old New Orleans born and Berklee College trained Christian Scott has authored this complex and demanding homage to the aftermath of the Katrina hurricane that devastated his home town and the much of surrounding north central Gulf coast.

A multi-instrumentalist (he plays cornet, trumpet, flugelhorn, piano, soprano trombone on the album) whose main focus is trumpet, Christian Scott is unashamed in his admiration for Miles Davis. "Miles started out a bopper, but one day he decided to take a different direction and not be so flashy in his playing … He decided to edit himself, to feel what he was thinking. What he doesn't play is just as great as what he does play."

And like Miles Davis he has captured the essence of how restraint in his playing generates a tension that is more effective than any straightforward assault on the senses since the reliance is on suggestion and nuance in place of the obvious. As much with Art Farmer and Tom Harrell, it is missing the point to confuse this with "soft" or pop orientated jazz.

The driving drumming of Marcus Gilmore adds strong accented rock orientated beats while Matt Stevens plays sparse electric guitar, Esperanza Spalding adds effective bass and Lewis Fouche plays alto sax. But it is Aaron Parks who introduces the most compelling lines via piano, especially on "Anthem", "Dialect" and the opening "Litany Against Fear" where rapidly vamped descending piano lines seem to be reminiscent of Coldplay or Keane.

Think of the rationale of Miles Davis on "You're Under Arrest" taking on reggae influenced beats with "Time After Time" and you would be close to Christian Scott's take on a rock orientated jazz that is suited to the task at hand. While he avoids being programmatic, he succeeds in summoning the feelings of chaos and destruction that attended Katrina and the feeling of alienation that resulted from the ineffective response in the aftermath. These feelings are made manifest in the closing track, a reprise of "Anthem", where Brother J of the rap group X-Clan voices the issues in a manner that recalls not hip hop but the now almost forgotten poetry and jazz.

Highly recommended.

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