Christian Scott Continues to Stretch Jazz's Sound with 'Diaspora'

Scott discusses his upcoming release, the second installment in his Centennial Trilogy, and shares a new trap-leaning track, "The Walk."

|
Jun 8 2017, 4:44pm

mat. prom. Ropeadope Records

Two years ago we saw the introduction of Christian Scott's "stretch music"with the release of his album bearing the same name. This year Scott is expanding on stretch music with the release of The Centennial Trilogy, made up of Ruler Rebel (released March 31) the soon-to-be-released Diaspora (June 23), and the follow-up The Emancipation Procrastination. The three albums, recorded over a six day marathon session in New Orleans, serve as a musical statement from Scott.

"Ruler Rebel identified who you were listening to," says Scott. "The music is really more centered around the types [of music] and style that point to my identity politics. I also point to the beginning of the music in terms of the rhythms and what's happening in terms of the vernacular that's being played over those rhythms to come out of New Orleans and out of the Diaspora."

These rhythms span a wide variety of influences from Afro-Native American music to New Orleans bounce music to more contemporary trap-influenced beats. Those beats are in full effect on "The Walk," premiering below. The rhythms are powered by two percussionists, Corey Fonville and Joe Dyson, who can be heard supporting a piano line contributed by Lawrence Fields. His effortless playing, for its part, sounds more like a brilliantly produced sample on your favorite rap album. While the first album in the trilogy served as the introduction to this sound, Diaspora "is more pointed to who is being spoken to," explains Scott.

"When I say the Diaspora, I don't mean it in the way that we typically use the term," he continues. "When I'm using the term, I'm actually speaking more to the idea that the Diaspora is all of these seemingly disparate cultures of people that are actually really one family. This record has influences that come from Nordic pop music, traditional Korean music, impressionistic and Russian classical music. So this one is stretching more in terms of the sonic terrain that shows that marriage between all of these cultures but with the similar rhythmic base."

"The Walk" does a particularly great job of taking us on a sonic journey guided by Sarah Elizabeth Charles's expressive voice. Her vocals serve as an anchor, setting a powerful but calming tone throughout the track. She is further backed by a harmonized horn line across Scott's trumpet, Braxton Cook's saxophone, and Elena Pinderhughes's flute. The backbeat provides the perfect amount of space for Pinderhughes in particular to remind us that this music, while stretching across genres, is still very much jazz. A longtime contributor to Scott's music, her emotive and soaring playing has recently been heard backing Common on tour and even Future onstage at this year's Coachella.

It's this intersectionality of music that Scott aims to illustrate as a way of life, a concept that will be further explored in the third installment of the trilogy.

"The Emancipation Procrastination is ultimately the message, right?" he muses. "It's what we're pointing out, what we're trying to get people to realize and sort of wake up to. We're trying to get folks to reevaluate the way that they communicate and interact with each other."

Follow Pat Shahabian on Twitter.