“He really stretched out on that solo,” someone might exclaim following a particularly expansive musical interpretation. Trumpeter Christian Scott uses the term “stretch music” not only as the title of his latest album but also as a conceptual description of the direction of his music. It, in other words, is like an elastic band that expands while still being attached to its origin.
Stretch Music represents Scott, a New Orleans native and New York resident, as a 32-year-old taking on the world with a ton of talent, fresh visions and, well, attitude. Some of that undoubtedly comes from his lineage as the nephew of saxophonist giant Donald Harrison, Jr., who definitely took him under his jazz wing, and his grandfather Big Chief Donald Harrison, Sr.—a Black Indian and jazz fan not to be messed with.
So on Scott’s tenth release, the brilliant trumpeter challenges the mainstream and hard-boppers with electronics, a large ensemble rather than a combo and music that is often somewhat ethereal. That by no means diminishes the passion and inspiration heard in his horn.
For those who caught Scott and his ensemble at the 2015 Jazz Fest, Stretch Music fairly represents the style and energy heard at that performance. Prominent that day and on the recording is the flautist of some note, Elena Pinderhughes, who displays her talents on the disc’s airy opener, “Sunrise in Beijing.” Featured too is guitarist Cliff Hines on the funkier “West of the West.”
Ensemble work and arrangements play an important role on Stretch Music, though the heart of jazz—its origins in improvisation—remains strong. It expands toward the future, though more of Captain Scott’s stand-alone, dynamic trumpet might further propel the voyage.