Christian Scott - Yesterday You Said Tomorrow

Album review. Christian Scott's fourth album for Concord aims at taking his already impressive musical output a stage further.


Recorded: April 22nd – 25th 2009 at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Release date: March 30th 2010 (February 1st 2010 in Europe)

Availability: CD, MP3 Download

Christian Scott: Yesterday You Said Tomorrow cover

Christian Scott's fourth album for Concord aims at taking his already impressive music a stage further. It's a young man's album (he's still just 26) and he's searching for the elusive link between jazz and a popular music audience entranced by rock and hip hop. In doing this, he has deliberately sought to widen the tradition that he had acquired growing up in New Orleans, playing with uncle Donald Harrison and emerging as one of Berklee School's brightest recent graduates:

"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."

In this Concord Records video, Christian Scott visits a record store and discusses these influences:

The centre for 'Yesterday You Said Tomorrow', however, is clearly Tom Yorke's 'Eraser'. Something in Radiohead's take on rock clearly chimes with the need for jazz to find new motifs for the 21st century. Brad Mehldau has featured versions of 'Everything in Its Right Place,' (from the Radiohead album 'Kid A'), 'Exit Music (for a Film),' and 'Paranoid Android' (both from 'OK Computer') and 'Knives Out,' (from 'Amnesiac'), on his recordings and in live performance. Chris Potter has recorded 'Morning Bell' and Robert Glasper has recorded 'Everything In It's Right Place'. Pianist Aaron Parkes (who played in the Christian Scott band and is featured on 'Live at Newport and 'Anthem') has acknowledged Radiohead as an influence and dug deeply into it on his 2008 album 'Invisible Cinema'.

Also key to this is the abandonment of the syncopated rhythms so central to jazz since the thirties (and which owed so much to tap); new dance, new music – a wake up call for jazz first made by Miles Davis in the 'sixties.

And as much as 'Yesterday You Said Tomorrow' draws on Miles Davis' approach to trumpet, with Christian Scott extending the master's Harmon mute trademark speaking style into the even more breathy 'whisper technique', it is about this need to encompass hip hop rhythms and Radiohead-inspired chord structures in a jazz sensibility that can be at home in the modern world. However, as Christian Scott runs the risk of being labelled as a 'saviour of jazz', it would be easy to understand how that could become a significant burden.

The band - Christian Scott (trumpet), Matthew Stevens (guitar), Milton Fletcher Jr (piano), Kristopher Keith Funn (bass), Jamire Williams (drums) – has moved on from the lineup on 'Live At Newport'. Matt Stevens and Jamire Williams remain, the latter's drumming a stand out on the album.

Apart from Tom Yorke's 'Eraser', all of the remaining tracks are Christian Scott compositions.

'K.K.P.D.' opens with heavy drumming broken by muted trumpet and open strummed electric guitar. It is angry and on the edge of free form. Christian Scott's unmuted trumpet playing mid way through is electrifying.

'The Eraser' has those Radiohead chords and thrash drumming enlivened by what could easily be Miles Davis' playing on 'Time After Time'. Edgy. Catchy.

'After All' rides on an attractive bass riff and develops into an interesting groove with shades of Miles' time no changes approach at the time of 'Miles Smiles'.

Featured on 'Live At Newport', the beautiful ballad 'Isadora' receives another, perhaps even more whispery, outing.

'Angola…..' contrasts open voiced trumpet with unadorned electric guitar chord sequences. Matthew Stevens' guitar solo fills the middle section with simplicity and style before Christian Scott returns with searing trumpet lines that capture some of the anger and remorse implied in the title.

'The Last Broken Heart' and 'Jenacide' are time no changes ballads that capture the new vibe especially well.

Uptempo 'American't' is like a repost to 'Yes, We Can', with bittersweet trumpet counterposed against all the hope conjoured up by the jangly guitar chords and heavy drumming. Very much the wounded sound of Miles Davis emerging again for a new purpose. The same feel continues on the long 'An Unending Repentance'.

The closing 'The Roe Effect' strips the sound down to strummed artless electric guitar and trumpet; an effective coda.

Most of the titles aim at a socio/political agenda. It's hard to achieve this in instrumental only music. However, the retreat into words would be more difficult, bringing with it the likelihood of literalness. Miles Davis succeeded in making a committed instrumental music; Christian Scott has gone a long way to achieving the same goal.

The album was engineered by Rudy Van Gelder and recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, a departure for the 85 year old. It's easy to see why the veteran of the height of Blue Note influence and optimism would want to be in on this excellent, highly recommended album.

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Christian Scott: Yesterday You Said Tomorrow cover

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Christian Scott: Yesterday You Said Tomorrow cover

Related reviews:

Christian Scott: Anthem

Christian Scott: Live At Newport

Aaron Parkes: Invisible Cinema

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Jacob said...

"After all" was written by Matt Stevens, he plays it on his album "Meet Matt Stevens" with Jamire and Milton

100 Greatest Jazz Albums said...

Jacob, thanks for the update.