Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Album Review: Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah - Axiom

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah
**** out of *****

One of the strongest jazz musicians on the scene Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah was playing the famous Blue Note in NYC right before the pandemic shut down everything. Those nights were recorded and the resulting live album Axiom is a sprawling capturing of CSaA's live experience. 

The core band CSaA has been playing with for a few years now is dynamic. Elena Pinderhughes - Flute Alex Han - Alto Saxophone Lawrence Fields – Piano, Keyboards Kris Funn - Bass Weedie Braimah – Djembe, Congas, Bata, Percussion Corey Fonville - Drums, SPDSX accompany the leader who plays Trumpet, Adjuah Trumpet, Sirenette, Reverse Flugelhorn, and Percussion while also talking to the crowd. 

While CSaA spends a solid part of his live shows conversing with the crowd about his personal inspiration, political issues and other jazz players. Only a few minimal stories are told on this double album with a focus on the music, and there is a ton of it.. If anything Axiom suffers from overload as  two hours of music keeps flowing and the songs/style can be daunting for those new to CSaA's offerings. 

The opener drops the listener directly in the deep end though with "X. Adjuah [I Own the Night]" from his Ancestral Recall album. The track is a percussive whirlwind as programmed beats, frantic drumming and loads of percussion keep pumping away at warp speed around piercing trumpet blows announcing his blazing intention. 

The following ode to New Orleans legends "The Last Chieftain [for Big Chiefs Donald Harrison Sr. & Jr.]" keeps the percussion bubbling with loads of solos including pianos and flutes while the snares, cymbal rides, trumpets and smooth bass give "Guinnevere" a mid career Miles Davis vibe. Davis' influence seeps in throughout, especially with his electric years focus on beats, which CSaA spotlights on Axiom.   

The laid back R&B groove of "Songs She Never Heard" pairs excellently with the new excursion 'Huntress" written for his mother and all powerful New Orleanian women while "Sunrise in Beijing" keeps the drums but also showcases Pinderhughes best flute solo on the record. Slightly less successful are the choppy scale climbing/descending "Incarnation [Chief Adjuah - Idi of the Xodokan]" and the aggressively blown "West of the West" with Han's sax getting a showcase. 

After quick introductions the bandcamp release also offers alternate takes of "Guinnevere" and "The Last Chieftain [for Big Chiefs Donald Harrison Sr. & Jr.]" which are fine, but the original versions shine brighter.   

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah was really on top of his craft in the live setting when the pandemic struck and Axiom is a strong capturing of his bands talents and powers. 
Axiom was included in our Best of 2020
Support the artist, buy the album, stream it on bandcamp or below and peep some video:

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