Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah at Yoshi's


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Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah
Oakland, CA
October 7, 2021

The Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah flying saucer landed on Thursday night at Yoshi's in Oakland, and what an eclectic crew emerged! Though they were anything but alien, every musician was a monster—trumpet, flute, piano, bass, and three different drummers forming the percussion section.

Adjuah, a New Orleanian, is a prepossessing, highly articulate young man and consummate raconteur. His is steeped in a philosophy of kindness that stresses how we are all in this together (and what one heckuva mad passion play it is!). He made it clear that he respects all people, striving to unite them rather than create separation. He has a big personality and displays his emotions. His affect is a youthful one, with a natural effusiveness that is infectious.

His hair was slicked back and bunched up to form a foot-long, beer-can thick cylinder that protruded stiffly from the back of his head. He wore all black, contrasted by a long, gold Ashanti pendant and gold bracelet—and his jewelry even matched his instruments. And when he picked up those horns, man, could he blow!

The band started with a 6/8 Nanigo (African) polyrhythmic groove that led into a long spacious head, played in unison by Adjuah (on a Dizzy Gillespie-like 'sky' trumpet) and the formidable Elena Pinderhughes on flute—a novel front line. Pianist Lawrence Fields comped admirably and harmonically underneath the melody. Right from the giddyap, it was cookin.' The percussion section consisted of two new members, Brian Richburg Jr on drums and Mizan Willis on various dun-duns and percussion, and the noteworthy Weedie Braimah, mostly on djimbe. Weedie, like the rest of this line-up, is world-class. He jumps in and out at the most unlikely places, but when he plays, the reports from his drum are startling, crisp, and mind-boggling in their execution. The plethora of his facial expressions is priceless.

Most of the band members are in their 20's, and they bring a razor-sharp cutting edge to the music. Adjuah aptly calls this music "Stretch Music" because the melody, harmony, and percussion stretch out in both imagination and length. Many multi-measure notes span the melody lines, and the percussion grooves repeat only at long intervals. This band has taken modern ensemble music in a whole new direction. Adjuah's philosophy and conception make it is impossible to fit this brand-new bag into a single genre—it is its own thing.

Adjuah plays comfortably and adroitly in the upper register in each of his three uniquely self-designed horns. On the second tune, he played what he calls the Adjuah Bow, which appeared to be an expertly crafted combination of a West African kora and a two-octave harp. He held and played it in the upright kora position—between his legs while standing—its sound is reminiscent of a haunting West African guitar.

Next came a complex funk-ish tune, with Amina Scott playing a dominant and burning funk groove on upright bass —rather than the usual electric. The traps drummer, Richburg, also bears mention. He could easily disperse rhythmic centers— going all over the place in the hippest of ways—only to recapture them at the perfect moment.

Towards the concluding section of Adjuah's tune, "West of West," the band purposely went chaotic, thunderously loud, and wild—only to simultaneously stop on a dime right in the middle of a measure.

Adjuah interspersed the set with his enlightening disquisitions and lengthy and complete band and lead-in introductions. Nothing he said felt extraneous—it was all relevant and captivating.

To sum up, Adujah's band is groundbreaking and not to be missed. They are taking cabaret music in a new and exciting direction, receiving a well-deserved standing ovation. The audience left awed and happy.

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah is a young master musician, bandleader, lyricist, and composer. His music is where the jungle meets the city.

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