Christian Scott – Live at Newport – Concord Jazz CJA-30853-00, CD: 73:44; DVD: 108 minutes ***1/2:
(Christian Scott, trumpet; Walter Smith III, tenor sax; Matt Stevens, guitar; Aaron Parks, piano; Joe Sanders, bass; Jamire Williams, drums)
Christian Scott has been on a near meteoric rise in jazz trumpet circles over the last few years. The young New Orleans native’s initial release in 2006 – Rewind That – was nominated for a Grammy Award, an incredible feat for a new jazz artist. Scott, the nephew of noted alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, won accolades as a teenager and received a scholarship to the famed Berklee School of Music. There he was chosen for the Berklee Monterey Quartet and played the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2004. From that point it has been a rapid rise with a major label signing and three rapid CD releases.
Scott’s latest, Live at Newport (JVC Jazz Festival, Aug. 2008) features 70+ minutes on the CD and over 100 minutes of video footage, reprising the CDs tracks (minus The Crawler). Scott deftly mixes rock rhythms with arena-like standard jazz. There is a mixture of tension and release with heady power trumpet and up front rock rhythm drumming leading to atmospheric passages of lyrical beauty.
I Died in Love is ample evidence of this blend. Jamire Williams wails on the drums while Scott plays anthemic passages. Litany Against Fear adds simple piano repetitive lines with saxophone and rock guitar musings impressively played by Matt Stevens. Isadora brings to mind early 60s Miles Davis. Rumor is a long track starting out with an extended drum solo and then Miles updated to the 70s with rock patterns. It’s a bit over the top for me, bringing forth the arena jazz reference. Anthem is more of the same but has more substance to keep a listener focused. The DVD provided of these live performances is an easier way to follow the heady atmosphere that Scott’s band creates and the audience at Newport reacts in kind to the sextet’s power jazz aesthetic.
This is jazz that fans can introduce to their teenage rock loving children to bring them into the fold. One can imagine Christian Scott’s group holding their own in a rock arena show with Radiohead headlining. It is a welcome development for a jazz label that would like to increase the approximate 3% of the CD market that straight jazz comprises.
TrackList: I Died in Love, Litany Against Fear, Isadora, Rumor, Anthem, The Crawler, James Crow, Jr., Esq.; Rewind That
– Jeff Krow