The New Orleans artist Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah was smack in the middle of his summer run at New York City’s famed Blue Note Jazz Club when his quintet took to the stage for their early set on a cool Tuesday night (August 21st) in Greenwich Village. With his latest critically acclaimed release, The Centennial Trilogy, Adjuah has worked to link the jazz past with the future using fusion and trap sounds, and he continued in that style during this set.
Surrounded by an amazing collection of talent, Luques Curtis on bass, Lawrence Fields keys, Corey Fonville drums and Elena Pinderhughes on flute, the players dove into the sound. Some programmed beats kicked things off as all of the musicians intertwined around a central theme played by Scott and Pinderhughes. The trap influence eased as Fonville’s playing lead to a gorgeous swelling of horns and piano, capping a riveting opener.
Next up was an offering that Adjuah mentioned was currently named “Untitled 11386”, perhaps his tribute to the John Coltrane tune of the same name. The effort was more traditional jazz based with less electronics and individual solos being the focal point around a steady groove. In order it was a trumpet solo, flute, then piano as the track wrapped up, leading into band intros. Christian is an affable leader and dug deep into explaining how each of his band members came into his life and how important both their playing and their spirits are to the outfit and the world in general.
After the twenty or so minutes of expansive intros, “West of the West” from his Stretch Music release started with Scott mentioning it was a hate song for Los Angeles, but he is slowly coming around on the town. Fields began on the Fender Rhodes expertly setting the scene before moving to piano as Curtis’s funky bass groove led the way. The highlight of the whole night was the fourth number as the band was locked in like pulsating organism Fonville’s hi-hat slaps mixed with hip hop loops while Scott and Pinderhughes gorgeously soared in and around the notes.
Before the set closer, written for his uncle Donald Harrison, Scott again went into storytelling mode, recalling times Big Chief Harrison helped feed his Ninth Ward community. Then he discussed tribalism and how it is tearing this country apart through politics and racism. While there were certainly tourists present (the French ones in front of me spoke no English) he was mainly preaching to the choir in the heart of the progressive city. While he is passionate and correct in his beliefs it became a bit long winded as he talked for twenty more minutes, forty total counting band intros, and played for just under fifty.
However, there was no denying when the artists were in lock step, the room soared. Closing with “The Last Chieftain” fittingly the drums lead the way via a soulful rumble as the open and honest playing ended the brief set. All of the musicians on the famous stage this night were effective and Adjuah’s style is intoxicating, the only complaint being I wish there was more of it.