Voices at Large

Christian Scott's New Cool


Last night, I saw Christian Scott at Catalina's in Hollywood. It was actually the second time I saw the Grammy-nominated trumpeter. I was fortunate enough to see him at a small club just before his debut album Rewind That was released. This time, the gig came just after the release of his sophomore album Anthem. At both gigs, Scott hypnotized the room with his evocative melodies, laced with soul styling to create a truly unique sound. Scott's name is destined to join the greats of jazz and he's often compared to Miles Davis, but not because he mimics the legend's style. Certainly the youthful Scott evokes Davis' impressive leaps of musical logic, but the comparison has more to do with each artist's persona.

Both Davis and Scott evoke the undeniable coolness of the genre. And Scott updates the idea by infusing elements of hip-hop, and even funk, into his traditionally influenced tunes. This isn't trip-hop or acid jazz, however. This is straight-up east coast jazz that welcomes a driving bass line or a drum groove rather than diffusing them in staccato rhythms. Both the colorful "Anthem" and the grooving "Rewind That" -- the opener and closer of the show, respectively, and the title tracks of each of his albums -- reveal a diverse collection of influences that seem perfectly blended, yet altogether new to the style. Surrounded by equally talented musicians, Scott's set is a sweet lesson in the new cool. He plays Catalina's for two more nights, then heads out for a bunch more gigs around the U.S., including a stop at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Check him out when he comes to your town.

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