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Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah – Triple-header

19th February 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Geraldine Wyckoff
Contributing Writer

It’s a triple-header for Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah who performs at the Contemporary Arts Center on three consecutive nights, Wednesday, February 21 through Friday, February 23. It looks like the number three could be in the stars for this talented trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer who released an impressive and ambitious series of albums in 2017 collectively titled “Centennial Trilogy.” Several of the musicians who contributed to these works will be on hand at the shows including pianist and Rhodes player Lawrence Fields, bassist Max Moran, saxophonist Stephen Gladney and percussionist Weedie Braimah with young drumming prodigy Kojo Roney joining the group. Adjuah came up under the tutelage of his uncle, saxophone great Donald Harrison Jr. and apparently understands the importance of bringing talented up-and-coming musicians into the fold. Roney, 13, by the way, has been startling audiences and critics alike since he was eight years old.

First up in the “Trilogy” series, which commemorates the 100th anniversary of the initial, commercial jazz recording, was Rebel Rule. Flautist Elena Pinderhughes played an important role in the sound of this CD that was heavily-orchestrated and involved three drum elements – the trap set, percussion and drum machine. For his CAC, Adjuah has scaled down the group, which should please those who like to hear him stand up and blow. It’s hard to fault a too generous band leader though it’s his horn many want to hear.

On Diaspora, the second release of the “Trilogy,” Adjuah continues his exploration of what he describes as “stretch music,” which was the name of the album that preceded the series and gave listeners a taste of things to come.



As the term implies, the innovative jazz-based leader pulls from the limitless possibilities of genres and use of instrumentation and electronics to create elasticity in his approach. The forward-thinking trumpeter also turns to some of the artists who have been along on the journey, most notably flautist Elena Pinderhugh-es. On this album, Adjuah expands the rhythm section adding another percussionist, Chief Shaka Shaka, to reinforce the connections that link the African diaspora. Notably, of interest particularly on a local level, is “Our Lady of New Orleans (Herreast Harrison),” a Latin-tinged tune written by Adjuah in tribute to his grandmother, who is the widow of Big Chief Donald Harrison Sr. Pianist Fields, who co-wrote the title cut with Adjuah, and will be with the group at the CAC, is outstanding throughout as he continually displays his attention to the melodies of the songs.

The provocative and thought-provokingly titled The Emancipation Procrastination stands as the third and final album of Adjuah’s “Centennial Trilogy.” It opens with the title cut and Adjuah at center stage. It’s where he belongs. Braxton Cook’s alto comes in on what could be described, especially in comparison with some other of Adjuah’s works, as a straight-up jazz format – trumpet solo, sax solo, piano solo. It’s both heady and totally easy to relate to. It, unlike many of the selections, relies little on electronics the absence of which allows for those all important empty spaces.

The trumpeter, playing brilliantly, reinvents Radiohead’s “Videotape” and has some much appreciated fun on another of his originals, the highly rhythmic and more casually executed and funky “Gerrymandering Game.” The flow of the album’s final cuts continues on the hard-boppin’, melodic and ambitious “New Heroes.” This tune has all the earmarkings of a classic with a melody that stays with you long past the time the music has come to an end.

The Emancipation Procrastination proves to be a continuum as well as the conclusion of Adjuah’s enterprising “Centennial Trilogy” though, undoubtedly, not his creative imagination and re-imagination of jazz’s possibilities.

At 34, going on 35, Adjuah, a graduate of NOCCA and the Berklee School of Music, oozes with duly-earned confidence. Even his attire screams. “Here I am.” The trumpeter boasts a musical “voice” and a style that even at age 22, when he released his 2006 Concord Jazz, Grammy-nominated album Rewind That, was in evidence. He took a cue from his saxophone playing uncle, Donald Harrison, in developing his own mode of expression in the creation of “stretch music” just as Harrison did when he introduced his own “nouveau swing.”

These shows are rare, New Orleans appearances by native son Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah. The band is totally solid and being pared down to a sextet, compared to the leader’s larger ensembles at Jazz Fest, for example, should give him and everyone a chance to take advantage of the room as soloists as well as to mix it up with each other. Undoubtedly Adjuah, who will be blowing trumpet, reverse flugelhorn and sirenette, will hit on some of the material from the aforementioned albums. Then again, considering his inventiveness, Adjuah may throw in some surprises.

Showtime at the Contemporary Arts Center is 7:30 p.m.

This article originally published in the February 19, 2018 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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