Christian Scott

[INTERVIEW] Christian Scott Defies Traditional Boundaries of Jazz

The 29 year-old trumpeter is bold enough—and dope enough—to release a double-album with 23 tracks, Christian aTunde Adjuah. Scott says, "Most artists are scared to make albums that long."

by Darren Sands, August 07, 2012

Christian Scott

Trumpeter Christian Scott: Not your traditional jazz artist

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lot of times tell me I grew up listening to jazz and I love it, but I haven’t really listened to it in the last 20 or 30 years because there hasn’t been anything to affect me but I really love your music and I feel like it’s breathing new life into the form. For the younger people it’s sort of different. A lot of times they don’t really have the pedigree or know the history of the music, they just know that it feels like something new is happening. So the reception from old to young is pretty much the same. If you’re just talking about the general listeners and folks that come to shows, they’re really just excited to hear what’s new.

EBONY: Isn’t producing a double album supposed to be a thing of the past?

CS: I think most musicians and most artists are scared to make albums that long, because you’re exposed, right? I think a lot of musicians and artists are really one that really only have one trick. So it’s hard to produce something like that over the course of two hours. Eventually people get bored with that, so people don’t even attempt to make double albums anymore. For me, what we’re trying to do with stretch music in any vernacular or context—anything that really scares us on any level because we feel like we can do anything musically. There’s nothing that exists within the canon of Western or Eastern music that I’ve heard that says to me that it’s going to be challenging for me to be able to do all of my instruments, or to be able to create a world or space for my band to be able to create something out of any of those vernaculars or languages. So, you know, like, we could have made a record that lasted three hours. It just came about trying to create a record that had a frame, that people would be able to relate. But, I mean, we recorded over thirty tracks for the record so some of that stuff is either going to come out on the deluxe version of this album or maybe on a greatest hits album that has a lot of bonus content. But there’s stuff that’s as wide-ranging. We have stuff that’s chopped up in like mixtape versions and stuff. You know, other stuff like Jawad, vocalists like Chris Turner, Isadora. We have rock and hip-hop stuff that we recorded to do with Sean Lennon. It’s wide ranging to the point where we’d be singing that Black Indian traditional music. All in all, there’s close to forty different tracks that are associated with this record, you guys are just hearing twenty-three of them. I think that really just comes out of the fact that most artists are just scared to take that type of leap because they won’t be able to carry it. We don’t think too much about that.

EBONY: Your twin brother, the writer and director Kiel Adrian Scott, was the inspiration for "Spy Boy/Flag Boy", and you two have an interesting bond. What’s it mean and how has he inspired you?

CS: For "Spy Boy", that was just a role I had in my grandfather’s tribe. There are different roles that you come up in in the Black Indian tradition. My grandfather was the only one to be a Chief of the tribe. I learned a lot from being around him. A spy boy is a scout. At Mardi Gras the different tribes will basically play war games, and so my brother is what you call a Flag Boy, which is more of less like a tribe’s diplomat. He carries the game’s standard and is really the line of where the game starts. We grew up in those roles in the tribe and it’s something that’s definitely affected us and the way that we navigate the world even to this day, you know? A lot of people equated the role that I’ve had in jazz music in the last decade to the way the role is as a spy boy. More or less, you’re kind of out there by yourself on Mardi Gras Day or St. Joseph’s Night, scouting out other tribes. But you’re checking out territory that’s not your own. You’re going into situations where you’re at a disadvantage trying to see if things ideas or moves are safe. And I think to a certain degree that’s also how I navigate the musical landscape. I kind of prefer to be sort of ahead of the pack checking things out, priming the canvas if you will for the younger guys that are going to come up and try to make their own statements about what they feel and what they have to contribute. But as far as my

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