The Prickle (@ThePrickle) November 19, 2019
Four years on from his acclaimed 2015 album Stretch Music, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah has taken the concept even further. What Scott dubs ‘stretch music’ both reaches outside of the boundaries of jazz whilst simultaneously drawing on the rich history this genre offers. In doing so, Scott expands the toolkit with which he communicates with the listener and, at EartH Hackney Arts Centre, displayed this range through elaborate storytelling.
His new album Ancestral Recall examines the history of jazz, drawing heavily on West African percussion, imbuing it with rich melody. On stage, the band interwove complex technical riffs without overcrowding each other, giving each instrument space to be expressed, producing a single, whole collective story. Introducing his band, Scott described the musical polyglot pianist, capable of translating across genres; the cool, laid back double bassist; the traditional and yet innovative djembe percussionist; the perfectionist, hard-working drummer; and the saxophonist focused on creating an accessible, understandable sound. Instead of separate pieces, on stage these attributes became codified in Christian himself and the tracks played throughout the evening.
Scott played songs from his new album as well as a few from older records. Like his latest release, the performance was centred around percussion which, along with his own electronics, provided the centrepiece. On the studio album guest vocals, including poetry, feature strongly, but in London the concert was entirely instrumental. This gave each performer more space to express themselves, as was especially the case with Logan Richardson, the alto saxophonist, whose fundamental role in Songs She Never Heard explored the boundaries of melodic communication.
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah provided a soul-searching night of music that bridged the history and future of jazz. The latest ‘stretch’ of jazz expressed in his most recent record was on full display and provided a unique and grounding experience.
The EFG London jazz festival continues until 24 November.