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Album review: Christian Scott's 'Yesterday You Said Tomorrow'

March 30, 2010 | 10:25 am

Christian_scott_240_ For a guy who's earned a reputation for speaking his mind, Christian Scott's trumpet tone can seem a bit incongruous. Frequently pinching his horn to a low, muted whisper, the genre-blind 26-year-old incorporates elements of funk, rock and hip-hop into jazz, making him the collaborator of choice for a wide variety of musicians, including Mos Def, Prince and even Glen Ballard.

Yet he's never made an album quite like this. An early leak of a faithful cover of Thom Yorke's "Eraser" briefly lit up the jazz blogosphere (particularly for drummer Jamire Williams' replication of the song's clipped electronic pulse), but the track's lilting approach feels almost out of place with the album's unsettling atmosphere.

Built around a skittering, restless rhythm, the police-brutality-inspired "K.K.P.D." sets the record's tone with Scott's murmuring trumpet gathering around the song's edges like a cold wind before rising to an outraged peak.

Referencing the long-running Louisiana work farm, the slow-burning "Angola, LA and the 13th Amendment" again finds Scott setting aside his mute to glide above Matthew Stevens' versatile, biting guitar, a pairing that also accentuates the brooding "American't" and "An Unending Repentance," which also features an inviting piano solo from Milton Fletcher Jr.

Recorded by jazz icon Rudy Van Gelder, the album's contemplative sound can feel a bit monochromatic, and a few ballads drift too far into the background. But with many arresting moments of collaboration and expression, "Yesterday You Said Tomorrow" feels like a broad-reaching statement of purpose, one that clearly marks Scott as an artist taking his music to the next level.

-- Chris Barton 

Christian Scott
"Yesterday You Said Tomorrow"
(Concord Jazz)
Three stars (Out of four)