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Christian Scott: A New Jazz 'Anthem'

If someone were to ask me to point them in the direction of where jazz is going, I would need to borrow more fingers than the 10 I have. One of them would point to Christian Scott.

Scott comes from good stock. His grandfather, Clinton Scott, hosted "Sittin' in with Clint," a weekend jazz program at my old station, WWOZ. Christian's uncle is the venerated modern jazz master, saxophonist Donald Harrison.

I first saw Scott onstage with Harrison at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. He was a gangly teenager dressed to the nines in a white linen suit. He was impressive then, but I had no idea what to expect from him. Now I do, and I like what I'm hearing.

In the years that have passed, Scott attended the Berklee School of Music, where, in his words, he "met some people with mohawks." Then he settled in New York, landed a record deal and released his Grammy-nominated debut, Rewind That.

Anthem is his sophomore release, and it's a doozy. Underneath a semi-static palette, you can hear the band use improvisation to create high drama using tension and release. In many ways, this music is sonic texture, much the same way that Miles Davis' Kind of Blue was nearly 50 years ago (and still is!). Only Scott likes to rock it with a group similar to Davis' band for Man with a Horn.

Four of the songs from this session originally appear on Anthem. The other, "M.I.A.," has never been recorded. In fact, the band was working on it at its Blue Note jazz club performance the evening before we did this session.

Every one of these young men are in their 20s. I have seen most of them in other settings, and they are the future contributors to our music.

So where is jazz heading? I don't know. But keep an ear out for Christian Scott if you want a clue. Youth and energy are on his side. Time will tell.


Producer: Josh Jackson; Mix: David Tallacksen, assisted by Darren Jones

Copyright 2007 WBGO

Josh Jackson is the associate general manager for content at WRTI in Philadelphia.

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