Music News

Christian Scott walks the line between old-school and new-school jazz

While Christian Scott is hailed as one of the hottest young trumpeters on the jazz scene, the Grammy-nominated musician doesn't listen to much jazz these days. Lately he's been lending his ears to more indie rock and hip-hop (he's performed with Mos Def). Scott says he doesn't expose himself to much jazz because all of the other musicians out there are being influenced by it, and he doesn't want his music to sound like theirs.

That goal is evident on his most recent album, Live at Newport, in which Scott and his group of stellar musicians push past traditional jazz boundaries, incorporating hints of acts such as Radiohead on a few tracks. The trumpeter sounds well beyond his years on the disc, which may have something to do with the fact that he started touring as a teen with his uncle, saxophonist Donald Harrison. We spoke with Scott just after he finished a photo shoot for his new album, which is due out early next year.

Westword: Your uncle is Donald Harrison. What was is like growing up under his wing?

Christian Scott: It was the best. You couldn't really ask for a better situation than that, because he's been through everything and seen everything. It was one of those things where everything that ended up being thrown at me later, I was completely prepared for. I never had that thing where I was shell-shocked by anything that happened, musically or business-wise.

You started performing with him when you were, like, fifteen or so, right?

I started going out on the road with him when I was about thirteen.

How old are you now?


I imagine you've probably experienced a lot in these past thirteen years.

Yeah, I've been around a little bit. But the game is still the same. The one thing that I've learned is that people don't change. Each new generation has the same stuff that the last one did. It's one of those things where jazz kind of works in five-year cycles. You get a small, fresh batch of new faces, but the temperament, the issues — everything is the same every five years. So you see some guys stick around and some guys leave, but it's always sort of the same story. And that's the one thing that I've learned, so I try to surround myself with the types of musicians that I know, for my pedigree, are going to be the ones that are going to last.

Can you tell me about the new record you're working on?

The album is called Yesterday You Said Tomorrow, and it's sort of like if you fused the intensity of an album like A Love Supreme, something like that, with the sonic palette that sounds more like Radiohead's In Rainbows — but recorded in the way they recorded albums like A Love Supreme and those older Impulse or Blue Note albums. We used Rudy van Gelder, who's recorded all those records. He actually recorded our record.

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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon