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Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah: Ancestral Recall

Phillip Woolever By

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Throughout two decades worth of previous releases, trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah2 has proved to be a master of his horn and an artist of soulfully ignited passions. With this album, the 35-year old multi-instrumentalist from New Orleans should add further accolades to his already sterling reputation.

He defines current endeavors as "a map to de-colonialize sound, to challenge previously held misconceptions about some cultures of music" and applies a self-described "stretch" concept of examination and experimentation to what are basically listed as new harmonic conventions and "forecasting cells" in a quest to create a new soundscape. This project represents another step in that previously uncharted direction (further explanation is available on Scott's website or social media).

Those hoping for extended segments of Scott aTunde Adjuah soloing on a variant trumpet may be surprised or disappointed how little that instrument is predominant, but he's supplemented that mouthpiece with multiple other options. Percussive pieces or sampling pads are often the most constantly pronounced instruments on the album. Mixing those devices and other technology with ancient, tribal type rhythm patterns is one of the record's strengths. "Ritual" is one of the few songs to feature extensive brass, as it continues foundational rhythms from "Her Arrival," the opening piece. "Forever Girl" is close to a conventional tune but even this rap-based cut is tonally textured into a quilt of patched, percussive pitches.

"Overcomer" is a wind tunnel chant, creating a vocal vortex hymn for what sounds like a church of chorded cohesion and a prime example of Scott's mission statement about reconstructing established norms. "Double Consciousness," is a noirish soundtrack that suggests mystery writer Walter Mosley's detective Easy Rawlins searching for sketches of a Maltese falcon in Spain. "Songs She Never Heard" may be the biggest curveball on this release. The gentle ballad comes very close to your grandfather's jazz, with some sweet alto sax by Logan Richardson. "Before" is a wind-based excursion captained by flautist Elena Pinderhughes, on a smooth sailing journey along the intersecting horizons of Scott aTunde Adjuah's horn. Vocalist Saul Williams co-composed four exceptional cuts and contributes powerful, poetic verses throughout.

Scott is credited with playing more than a dozen instruments, and from the sound of things he put each of them to good use on the climactic, title song. Complex beats touch under and across tightly combined chord structures that expand into a rollicking package of varied tonal textures. The multi-layered percussion builds behind an ebb and flow of electronics, vocalized synthetics and supplemental horns in a definite highlight for headphones from start to finish.

Scott aTunde Adjuah has always been musically devoted to what he describes as "sonic architecture." There are touches of tantalizing trumpet tidbits but he's just as focused on various keyboard and synthetic effects. With this project he seems to aspire, successfully, to constructing on a different level. Some sections are marginally repetitive, but that's a standard point of percussion. On the strength of originality alone, Scott and this evolutionary effort stand out. Once again, it sounds like Scott is fully engaged in his commitment and his vision. At times it might be a challenge to keep up with his trailblazing style, but anyone seeking fresh musical territory should find plenty to enjoy here.

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

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