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Christian Scott lights up Anthology

Anthology presented one of the year's best concerts last night--despite a less-than-capacity crowd--when trumpet virtuoso Christian Scott's Quintet hit the stage.

The Scott group has been together, and working steadily, for the past several years, and on tour in support of an excellent double CD, this experience showed in multiples.

Scott has found his own sound on trumpet and flugelhorn, warm and thick with a nasty burr in the lower register. His tone is very centered, so much so, that when he winds up to a burst in the upper register, the result pierces the room, and not the listener's eardrum.

Opening with "Jihad Joe," from his new album, the band locked into a tight vamp while powerhouse drummer Jamire Williams turned up the heat with constant percussive eruptions. Scott embarked on a long, exploratory solo that peaked with a series of clattering trills, then guitarist Matt Stevens followed with a clear-toned exposition that chromatically connected several ideas into a cogent whole. Pianist Lawrence Fields finished up with a virtuosic spot that recalled Herbie Hancock's work in the Miles Davis Quintet.

What's great about these guys is that they have found their own way. Scott's group is undeniably connected with the jazz tradition--but they have expanded those parameters to suit their own musical voices. Everyone in the group avoided the obvious--and there was a sense of patience that spoke to the ethos of true improvisation at all times.

Scott, Stevens and Fields all used space in their individual solos to great effect--it takes discipline and confidence to stop what you are doing--especially when it's grooving along quite nicely. Stopping forces new choices, and this is something that everyone was able to do.

Whether it was Scott's probing, ECM-ish ballad, "Isadora," which drew rich, Kenny Wheeler-like sonorities from the leader--who left enough room in his improvisations to allow Fields to inject long stretches of complimentary melodic dialog--or the unsettled vamp of "Danziger," which found Williams churning up waves of discourse--the group exhibited a controlled chaos that kept you leaning forward.

Brand new band member, bassist Zwelahke Bell Le Pere's loping gait introduced an unannounced piece in odd meter that Scott, Fields and Stevens layered dreamy cloud-like textures on top of. Many of the trumpeter's pieces end dramatically on a melodic unison that sneaks up on you--another cool feature about this group.

Scott introduced the finale, "KKPolice Department," with a harrowing personal story illustrating how dangerous it still is to be a black man in New Orleans, (and many other places), in 2012. What followed was a wild display of vivid musical imagery fueled by Stevens' overdriven open-string chords, tortured trumpet improvisations, and Williams' barely-contained kinetic energy.

Photo by Bonnie Wright

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Anthology presented one of the year's best concerts last night--despite a less-than-capacity crowd--when trumpet virtuoso Christian Scott's Quintet hit the stage.

The Scott group has been together, and working steadily, for the past several years, and on tour in support of an excellent double CD, this experience showed in multiples.

Scott has found his own sound on trumpet and flugelhorn, warm and thick with a nasty burr in the lower register. His tone is very centered, so much so, that when he winds up to a burst in the upper register, the result pierces the room, and not the listener's eardrum.

Opening with "Jihad Joe," from his new album, the band locked into a tight vamp while powerhouse drummer Jamire Williams turned up the heat with constant percussive eruptions. Scott embarked on a long, exploratory solo that peaked with a series of clattering trills, then guitarist Matt Stevens followed with a clear-toned exposition that chromatically connected several ideas into a cogent whole. Pianist Lawrence Fields finished up with a virtuosic spot that recalled Herbie Hancock's work in the Miles Davis Quintet.

What's great about these guys is that they have found their own way. Scott's group is undeniably connected with the jazz tradition--but they have expanded those parameters to suit their own musical voices. Everyone in the group avoided the obvious--and there was a sense of patience that spoke to the ethos of true improvisation at all times.

Scott, Stevens and Fields all used space in their individual solos to great effect--it takes discipline and confidence to stop what you are doing--especially when it's grooving along quite nicely. Stopping forces new choices, and this is something that everyone was able to do.

Whether it was Scott's probing, ECM-ish ballad, "Isadora," which drew rich, Kenny Wheeler-like sonorities from the leader--who left enough room in his improvisations to allow Fields to inject long stretches of complimentary melodic dialog--or the unsettled vamp of "Danziger," which found Williams churning up waves of discourse--the group exhibited a controlled chaos that kept you leaning forward.

Brand new band member, bassist Zwelahke Bell Le Pere's loping gait introduced an unannounced piece in odd meter that Scott, Fields and Stevens layered dreamy cloud-like textures on top of. Many of the trumpeter's pieces end dramatically on a melodic unison that sneaks up on you--another cool feature about this group.

Scott introduced the finale, "KKPolice Department," with a harrowing personal story illustrating how dangerous it still is to be a black man in New Orleans, (and many other places), in 2012. What followed was a wild display of vivid musical imagery fueled by Stevens' overdriven open-string chords, tortured trumpet improvisations, and Williams' barely-contained kinetic energy.

Photo by Bonnie Wright

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