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Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah: Ancestral Recall

Karl Ackermann By

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It's rare to see Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah2's name without some derivation of "architect" affixed to it. It's appropriate. The New Orleans trumpeter and composer—like his peers Kamasi Washington and Ambrose Akinmusire—is part of a wave of jazz musicians determined to keep the genre's momentum moving forward. Adjuah's Ancestral Recall seeks to dismiss notions of identity-based music, with a more inclusive form.

As if to demonstrate comprehensiveness, Adjuah opens the collection with a very busy "Her Arrival." Featuring five percussionists, multiple vocalists, and the leader's clear, haunting trumpet soaring above the chaos. Weedie Braimah's percussion arsenal includes djembe, Mande and Ewe drums, and he adds West African flavor to a hip hop tinged "I Own the Night." There is a similar vibe on "The Shared Stories of Rivals," featuring spoken words by Saul Williams, who co-wrote some pieces with Adjuah. Here, there are subtle elements of New Orleans adding another layer. The fourteen-member ensemble steps aside on "Overcome" and "Prophesy" where Adjuah creates mesmerizing soundscapes with brass, electronics, and voice. The visceral and moving title track closes out the album with another fine Williams reading; the ethereal trumpet enhancing the powerful content of the words.

Adjuah, like others in the new movement of jazz, isn't inventing another sub-genre as much as advancing a multi-level theory. The challenge of these blending experiments has always been more of a concern to marketers than patrons of art, less preoccupied with the proper category, and focused on the aesthetic appeal of the music. Ancestral Recall approaches harmony and rhythm in unconventional ways; its many stylistic components are not superfluous in any sense, but carefully premeditated to reflect Adjuah's world view. It is an exceptionally interesting and appealing album.

Title: Ancestral Recall | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Ropeadope

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