There's no debating that young trumpeter Christian Scott is a master technician. He can mimic the sound of a saxophone or a human wail and use the half-valve technique for whole phrases. Nowhere is Scott's talent more apparent than on his new CD and DVD set, Live at Newport, recorded in August at the JVC Jazz Festival in Rhode Island. Though the set repurposes a couple tunes from Scott's 2007 album, Anthem, most of the material is new, and much of it sounds better-crafted and more deliriously romantic than his last record. His new compositions blend downtown jazz with industrial indie rock, creating a sound palette that's darkly emotional, but also quite accessible.
"Died in Love," which kicks off the set, has a very simple form (the chords aggregate and smear over a doleful melodic line), but it highlights Scott's ability as a soloist. "James Crow Jr. Esq." revolves around a bewitching theme that guitarist Matt Stevens introduces at the beginning. It's the album's hookiest song but in a real shifty way, since the melody sounds bleak and not conventionally beautiful. Live caps off with "Rewind That," a free-form tune that allows Scott's band to drift into psychedelia.
A lot of credit goes to Parks and drummer Jamire Williams for creating the mood and atmosphere of the album. Williams' bustling rhythms give the songs a contemporary edge, and Parks recycles some of his own innovations — like laying down an eighth-note rhythm in octaves. ("James Crow Jr., Esq." sounds uncannily Aaron Parks-ish). Still, Live at Newport reveals how dramatic Scott can be in a live performance. That's obviously his greatest asset. (Concord)
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