Sunday, April 4, 2010

Album Note - Christian Scott: Yesterday You Said Tomorrow

MILES OF TRANE: YES! The new album was released this past week and has met expectations. Scott's own description of his music as Coltrane by an indie band is a bold statement, and though he is infinitely more qualified than me to assess it, I'm not convinced it's either accurate or needed. But he does transcend the earthly plane, so I'm choosing to love him for who he is and not judge him for who he's not.

I've thought much about Scott characterizing his instrumentals as highly political, and wondered if that adds anything for the listener. The first track "K.K.P.D." stands for Ku Klux Police Department, and maybe knowing what was on his mind helps explain the complex rhythm section setup for his voice-like horn. It's not necessary, but it's the artist's choice. On "Eraser" O:Barr asks why not just listen to Thom Yorke's original? But I love the way he plays upon Yorke's own odd beats to emphasize the jazz sounds, making the drumming a bit more swung than the rock version without it being swing at all. (I once heard Thom Yorke describe how he often confounded the other Radiohead members by putting in an extra beat here and there, without himself realizing it until it was pointed out). It works for me. "Isadora" is a melancholy interlude before the dynamic "Angola, LA & The 13th Amendment," where surely the political statement is that the spirit of the oppressed prevails over the spirit of the oppressor. Scott maintains with "The Last Broken Heart (Prop 8)" before returning to innovation with "Jenacide (The Inevitable Rise and Fall of the Bloodless Revolution)." The gimmicky title of "American't" is quickly justified by the soaring music, and the last two songs make a great close to an excellent overall effort.

So are the often heard comparisons to the two jazz greats for whom this blog is named apt? Scott lacks Miles Davis' fragility and nuance, but captures much of his lyrical spirit. I can't hear the Coltrane sound to which Scott himself makes reference, and perhaps the bravado in his suggestion should make me look at him sideways. But the reality is that he needs to pay more dues before we can judge any of this because Davis ultimately showed he was the ingenious mind of jazz whereas John Coltrane became its most transcendent spirit -- and such transformations don't happen over night, or in a decade. But he does bring a sound dimension that makes me want to listen over and over. I choose to listen to him as Christian Scott, and on that score count me a fan.

Something Else!: Christian Scott - Yesterday You Said Tomorrow (2010)
Album review: Christian Scott's 'Yesterday You Said Tomorrow' | Pop & Hiss | Los Angeles Times
Christian Scott | Yesterday You Said Tomorrow
Christian Scott - Yesterday You Said Tomorrow | Review | The Jazz Mann