The provocatively and thought-provokingly titled The Emancipation Procrastination stands as trumpeter/composer/producer Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s third album of his Centennial Trilogy. Celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the first jazz recording, the series includes his previously released discs, Diaspora and Rebel Ruler. Remarkably, all were put out in 2017. Talk about prolific.
Stylistically, Adjuah continues his exploration of what he describes as “stretch music,” which as the name implies, allows for flexibility in all aspects of creation. Using the core of musicians who have been at his side throughout the project—notably flautist Elena Pinderhughes, saxophonist Braxton Cook, keyboardist Lawrence Fields and the percussion section of Joe Dyson, Corey Fonville and Weedie Braimah—this work proves to be a continuum as well as the conclusion of the project.
Adjuah’s powerful, though often mournful horn, seems to take center stage a bit more often here, though he continues to be a most generous leader in offering his band members room to, well, stretch out their expressive revelations. The title cut, an Adjuah original that opens the CD, stands as one of the most straight-up numbers, with the trumpeter blowing with great expression and technique. It, unlike many of the selections, relies little on electronics, the absence of which allows for those all-important empty spaces.
The trumpeter, playing brilliantly, reinvents Radiohead’s “Videotape” and has some much appreciated fun on another of his originals, the highly rhythmic and more casually executed “Gerrymandering Game.”
The flow of the album’s final cuts continues on the hard-boppin’, melodic and ambitious “New Heroes.”
The Emancipation Procrastination ends much as it began, with the warmth of jazz winding through refreshingly familiar yet excitingly new paths. The vividly persistent horn and adventurous nature of Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah bravely lead the way.