If you believe that we're in the midst of a new golden age of jazz, then it follows that Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah must now be considered a historic figure. His contribution to the genre's current boom has been significant for a while; now, a trilogy of discs released in 2017 demands that he be compared to jazz's great talents.
The Emancipation Procrastination completes the trio that kicked off with Ruler Rebel in March and continued with Diaspora in June. At 34, the New Orleans multi-instrumentalist is too young to have his work described in terms of a career peak, but these albums are so nearly flawless that it's difficult to imagine how he can get any better.
A big part of what's made jazz so exciting in recent years is a group of young artists who are bringing hip-hop, soul and electronic music influences into their work; Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin and Esperanza Spalding are all top of mind in this way. Derrick Hodge deserves a mention too. These artists aren't just updating jazz; they're widening its appeal without sacrificing an ounce of integrity.
The Centennial Trilogy, as Scott calls it, is "a sobering re-evaluation of the social-political realities of the world through sound." That tension is prevalent throughout the work. Scott's mournful trumpet dominates, as you'd expect, but the band backing him this time is packed with stand-out performances too — Weedie Braimah's djembe, bata and congas, Corey Fonville's drums and SPD-SX sampling pad and Lawrence Fields' piano, just to name a couple.
As if three full-length albums aren't enough in one year, the album wraps with "New Heroes," a 43-minute epic that serves as a stunning encore.
It is a suitable note to close on. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah deserves a global audience for his contributions this year, and the jazz world deserves a new hero as talented as he. (Independent)