New Orleans Jazz Artist
- Model: G3X-Bb
- Body: .462
- Bell: XK22-B
- Tuning Slide: Standard
- Leadpipe: D4
- None listed
One of the brightest jazz stars to emerge in the last few years is trumpeter Christian Scott. He makes his Concord Jazz debut with Rewind That, arguably the most remarkable premiere the genre has seen in the last decade. Instead of retreading bebop the way so-called young lions did in the early 1990s, Scott delivers a smart, grooved and plugged-in set of tunes (nine of the 11 tracks are originals) with his electric sextet. Steeped in the jazz tradition and intent on participating in the music's evolution, the New York-based Berklee College of Music grad is indeed a significant new voice poised to make an impact on the future of jazz.
Scott is a natural. Only 22, the trumpeter has both the tone and the conviction of the great players of his instrument. He eschews cliché and gimmickry in favor of an expressive sensibility and a willingness to break rules when it makes musical sense to him. A New Orleans native, Scott represents the next generation of Crescent City horn blowers whose lineage started with the legendary King Oliver and Louis Armstrong and has continued with such marquee trumpeters as Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard and Nicholas Payton.
"I set out to find my own style to convey how I feel in my heart. I'm not thinking about how many bebop licks I can play," says Scott, who not only won over crowds in performances back home, but has also made a name for himself on the road playing with his uncle, renowned alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, Jr. That gig started when he was 16. "Donald taught me how important it is to be identifiable. He also warned me not to listen to many of the trumpet players who are playing today so I wouldn't sound like them."
Instead, Scott has developed his own distinctive and compelling trumpet voice: a breathy tone that has more in common with the way Ben Webster played the tenor saxophone than the piercing, clarion call the trumpet usually delivers. "It took me two years of concentration to come up with that tone," says Scott, who got technique pointers from veteran horn player Clark Terry. "Apparently Clifford Brown figured out a way to play the trumpet to get that sound, even though there are no recordings of him doing it. Instead of blowing cold air into the instrument, Clifford squeezed out warm air from his diaphragm that created a more breathy tone. I like it because it makes the trumpet sound like the human voice."
Scott hooked up with Concord Music Group on the recommendation of a distributor who witnessed the trumpeter and his band packing the Virgin Megastore in Boston with standing-room-only crowds of excited young adults. Scott sent the label a copy of his self-released, self-titled 2002 album. "They loved it," Scott recalls. At the time, no one at Concord knew that Scott was Harrison's nephew. Ironically, Harrison had signed to Concord when he was 22, and now his nephew has done the same at the same age.
While Scott lists all the great jazz trumpeters - Armstrong, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard—as influences, he singles out Miles Davis as his "main guy." "Miles started out a bopper, but one day he decided to take a different direction and not be so flashy in his playing," Scott says. "He decided to edit himself, to feel what he was thinking. What he doesn't play is just as great as what he does play. I saw a video recently of him playing, and you could see in his face that he was editing each note he played."
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In Their Own Words
"My Edwards Gen II Bb is a premiere instrument. Since I play many styles - from solo and orchestral to jazz and Cuban - my trumpet has to respond immediately to each musical situation. And it surely does! Bravo to Edwards!"
Professor, University of Richmond