New Orleans native, Berklee College of Music graduate, trumpeter and composer Christian Scott is one of the rare jazz artists of today who makes so significant a statement with each of his new CD releases that their arrival is cause for immediate downloading and trips to amazon.com in order to check out the next statement in his evolving artistic vision. Not since Miles Davis and Dave Douglas has a trumpeter made so significant an impact with respect to catching "the new" that serious reflection and study by jazz stalwarts demands active participation by the listener on every single track of every single release. In addition, Scott is quickly adding to his own aura by making each successive step in his career not only a carefully thought out intellectual statement but a strikingly emotional one as well.
Yesterday You Said Tomorrow does nothing but confirm all of the above. Working with a different band than on Anthem, only guitarist Matthew Stevens remains, Scott turns up the intensity by working in a much more subdued realm. With the use of a breathy tone, many times placed inside a harmon mute wrapping, Scott gets not only inside the trumpet more than in the past, but also more inside his own compositions. Able to channel both Miles Davis’ early 1950s style and Woody Shaw’s tempestuously exciting nature, without stealing from either, Scott is his own man.
The band’s interplay is stellar. With Stevens touching just the outside limits of the chordal implications pianist Milton Fletcher is able to dig into the core of the harmonic motion. Their work together throughout is firmly in-the-moment as clearly as any of the work McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones were able to create in support of John Coltrane. Jamire Williams’ drums and Kris Funn’s bass lock the rhythm when needed, as on "Jenacide," or swirl touches of expressionistic colors as on "The Eraser" and "An Unending Repentance," with the best of any duo.
Scott’s voice, however, is why jazz aficionados will flock to this recording. His strong ripping horn, as on "Angola, LA & The 13th Amendment," and "Jenacide," doesn’t point the way so much as roundup the usual suspects and grill each of them in-turn. By using a harmonic language that makes no reference to cliché or tricks-of-the-trade Scott is able to stay clearly on target, presenting alternative conceptions in each successive improvised phrase; a rare talent only achieved through hard work and study that informs but never dictates his lines. The breathy moments, in turn, interspersed throughout, don’t color so much as make side observations.
This recording is neither hard-bop, cool jazz, modernistic, post-modernist or free. It is all of the above just as much as it is non-of-the-above. When placed in the context of Anthem, Yesterday is both the next step and not at all connected. That is the joy of Scott, each release is something new. Not since Miles and Douglas have we seen this with a trumpeter. It only makes the anticipation for the next recording that much more eagerly anticipated, but don’t worry if you have to wait another year for that one because there is much in the last two releases to occupy the mind endlessly.