Christian Scott

  • Christian Scott
  • 2010-02-02

26-year jazz trumpeter, composer and producer Christian Scott is fast becoming one of the hottest properties on the contemporary jazz scene. Having already received much critical acclaim, his forthcoming duet with Scroobius Pip is only the latest in a long line a high profile collaborations. Previous projects have seen him pairing up with Prince, Jill Scott and Mos Def, so it is little surprise that Christian is opening up the jazz scene to a younger market. A lot has changed for Christian since his 2006 debut Rewind That, but on the dawn on his fourth solo venture You Said Yesterday Tomorrow Christian is facing a new challenge — the British market. With pop-jazz currently pleasing the public, can Christian entice the Brits into something slightly more authentic? zap! bang! took a moment to find out.

What are you looking forward to doing while you are here in the UK?
I’ve been looking forward to going to Saville Row. I’ve heard so much about it and I heard that Muhammad Ali bought a suit there so I want to check it out.

What do you make of the UK jazz scene?
It’s great. I like what the young cats are doing. Guys like Jay Phelps and Mike Mwenso are killing. They need more support though.

The average age of the jazz performer is fast dropping. What do you think has caused the younger the musician’s involvement with the genre?
I think one of the main reasons is because of the work of the guys from the neoclassic movement. Guys like Wynton Marsalis go to schools and put together programmes that are really helpful in nurturing young talent. When I was a kid, watching them do that made me want to be a party to this music and also to contribute to teaching when I became an adult. Which is why I teach so much.

I never thought about money when I was deciding what I wanted to do because when I was growing up I never had any money.

You are a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston. What was the experience like?
It was fun. I had a great experience. One of the great things about Berklee is that alongside your studies, you’re allowed to go on the road and tour. They have professional students. Another good thing to come out of my time there was that I met my pianist Milton Fletcher and guitarist Matt Stevens as well as cats like Luques and Zaccai Curtis, Walter Smith and Thomas Pridgen.

Were you ever concerned that getting into the jazz music scene would be without financial gain?
No I never thought about that. When people think of life in those terms it stops them from putting themselves in positions where they may actually learn something or have a good time. I never thought about money when I was deciding what I wanted to do because when I was growing up I never had any money. I wanted to play music because it made me happy not because it could make me rich. I’d never stop playing music just because there’s no money involved.

How important is accessibility to jazz music?
Right now it’s important. I don’t know that it’s something we think about as musicians though. It’s important because the audience is getting smaller and smaller. And we have to replenish the ranks. What’s hardest about it is for a musician to determine how to create accessible music. What does that mean? You make your music simpler? Do you add things or take things out? Do you do it in the things that you say or what you wear? It’s complicated.

You have said that Miles Davis was “one of the few guys who had the conviction that is required to make music”, what do you consider to be conviction?
I never said that Miles Davis was one of the few guys who had conviction just to make music. There are lots of people who have the conviction just to make music you know. But when you ask me what do I consider conviction, I’m talking about determination. I’m talking about his unwillingness to let anyone control what it was that he wanted to create. No matter what that meant. I’m talking about an artist that’s willing to sacrifice playing what makes him happy for his vision.

Speaking of Miles, his name comes up quite a bit when people speak about you. With all that talk about Miles, and all this talk about your age and what potential you have, do you feel any pressure to live up to these expectations?
No I don’t feel any pressure. No one can make you feel any way. You have to make a choice to feel anything. It’s like when people say “you made me feel bad”. They didn’t make you feel shit! You choose to feel bad based on whatever they said or did. Same thing with pressure.

I would collaborate with Saul Williams. Because he’s the dopest MC living.

What do you make of the jazz/pop crossover records?
If you’re talking about the likes of Jamie Cullum, I just heard a track of Jamie’s that I think is pretty dope. But for me when you’re listening to that type of stuff it sounds like acoustic pop music. The thing for me is, I hate to be that guy that says things like “well what about this, are we calling this jazz?”. But before I come to the conclusion on whether I like something that we’re calling that, I need to know specifically what we’re calling jazz.

If you could choose any contemporary artist to collaborate with who would that be?
I would collaborate with Saul Williams. Because he’s the dopest MC living.

Your instrument of choice is the trumpet, what attracted you to the instrument?
I started to play the trumpet because I wanted to hang out with my uncle because he plays saxophone. And when I got the horn I fell in love with it. I realised it was truly my voice and I couldn’t live without it.

You Said Tomorrow strips away darker elements of your sound, what prompted this move?
It didn’t strip away elements of my sound. It’s just that the general sound of some of the compositions is in more contrast to before. But I think you would find that some of the dark moments in this album are extremely dark. So the darkness is still there it’s just coupled with more light moments. I’m still very angry about a lot of things and I think my music still reflects that. But I’m also happy about a lot of things too!

You Said Tomorrow is released on February 1st 2010 on Concord Records. For more information visit Christian Scott’s official site.

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