Yesterday You Said Tomorrow (Concord Jazz)

Christian Scott

Released March 30, 2010

JazzTimes Top 10 Albums of 2010




Concord Jazz presents star trumpeter Christian Scott’s highly anticipated, all-new 10-song collection, Yesterday You Said Tomorrow. The album was recorded at the renowned Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey where legendary Rudy Van Gelder engineered the work. Van Gelder, who is known as one of the greatest recording engineers in jazz history for his work with John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock among others, says about the new album, “This is one of the best things I have done in a long, long time.” Yesterday You Said Tomorrow was co-produced by Scott and Chris Dunn and marks the young trumpeter’s fourth Concord Jazz release.

Born in New Orleans in 1983, Scott has always been acutely aware of the legacy of jazz and its role within the broader context of 20th century history. Regarding the new album, Scott says, “I wanted to create a musical backdrop that referenced everything I liked about the music from the ‘60s – Miles Davis’ second quintet, Coltrane’s quartet, Mingus’ band – coupled with music made by people like Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix. The music from that era just had more depth, whether it was jazz or rock or folk or whatever. The political and social climate at the time was much heavier, and there were a few musicians who weren’t afraid to reference that climate in their work. The ones who did that – and at the same time captivated people in a way that referenced their own humanity – were the ones who ended up lasting the longest.”

Yesterday You Said Tomorrow references a saying that Scott’s grandfather would use to emphasize the importance of recognizing the work at hand and making the most of the available time to complete it. Aided by guitarist Matthew Stevens, pianist Milton Fletcher, Jr., bassist Kristopher Keith Funn and drummer Jamire Williams, Scott addresses the issues head on, regardless of how uncomfortable the subject matter may be. He opens the set with “K.K.P.D.,” a track full of dark harmonies and tense, competing polyrhythms. The title stands for “Ku Klux Police Department,” a reference to what Scott calls the “phenomenally dark and evil” attitude held by some of the local police toward African American citizens of New Orleans when he was growing up – and the similar dynamic that persists there and in other cities to this day.

Scott wipes away some of the darker shades in “The Eraser,” the melodic second track penned by singer-songwriter Thom Yorke, co-founder and frontman of Radiohead (“The Eraser” is the title track to Yorke’s 2006 solo debut). The aptly titled piece resets the tone of the overall recording, says Scott. “With that song, we’re erasing the issue that was raised in the previous song, and then the album starts,” he says. “Those first two songs are very much a part of the album, but they’re there to establish an environment where you’re willing to listen to whatever else we have to say, because you’ve been opened up to the validity of the original argument.”

Since his Concord debut, Rewind That, Scott has received significant accolades. He was quickly tapped as one of the faces to watch by Billboard, received a Grammy nomination for Rewind That and named one of Ebony’s “30 Young Leaders Under 30.” His style, sensibility and musical talent prove his appeal to both the hip-hop community and jazz purists, and he has performed with the likes of Prince, Mos Def, DJ Muggs, Marcus Miller and Glen Ballard (Aerosmith, Michael Jackson, Dave Matthews). This past year Scott topped the Downbeat 2009 Critic’s Poll for Trumpeter of the Year, and he has appeared alongside George Clooney in the film Leatherheads as well as in the critically acclaimed Jonathan Demme film Rachel Getting Married starring Anne Hathaway.

Track Listing:

1. K.K.P.D. (Christian Scott) 7:07

2. The Eraser (Thom Yorke) 5:26

3. After All (Matthew Stevens) 7:55

4. Isadora (Christian Scott) 6:14

5. Angola, La & the 13th Amendment (Christian Scott) 8:40

6. The Last Broken Heart (Prop 8) (Christian Scott) 5:47

7. Jenacide (the Inevitable Rise and Fall of the Bloodless Revolution) (Christian Scott) 6:51

8. American’t (Christian Scott) 7:05

9. An Unending Repentance (Christian Scott) 9:40

10. The Roe Effect (Refrain In F# Minor) (Christian Scott / Matthew Stevens) 3:25


Christian Scott: trumpet

Matthew Stevens: guitar

Milton Fletcher; piano

Kris Funn: bass

Jamire Williams: drums

Recorded on April 22-25, 2009, at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Recorded, Mixed & Mastered by Rudy Van Gelder

Produced by Chris Dunn & Christian Scott


Like Anthem, Christian Scott’s 2007 post-Katrina meditation, Yesterday You Said Tomorrow is more than a collection of tunes; it’s a statement. Scott, who was 26 at the time of this album’s release, spells out his intention in the liner notes, where he explains that — and he cites the 1960s work of Coltrane, Miles, Hendrix, Dylan, and Mingus as reference points — he wanted to “create a record that has all the qualities of the documents of that era as they relate to our time by creating a palette that referenced the depth and conviction of the ’60s in the context of subject matter and sound, but done in a way that illuminates the fact that my generation has had the opportunity to study the contributions of our predecessors, thus making our decision making process musically different.” That’s a pretty lofty goal (and a very long sentence), and a challenge to achieve, particularly with instrumental music. Scott pulls it off with aplomb though — recorded by Rudy Van Gelder and produced by Chris Dunn and Scott, Yesterday You Said Tomorrow is very much a contemporary jazz album, yet it frequently touches down in that earlier, headier era, both sonically and in a more visceral, emotional sense. It’s impossible, for example, not to notice the tonal similarities to Miles’ work of the late ’60s in Scott’s trumpet playing, and the pacing and feisty overall attitude of several tracks is reminiscent of the more contemplative music of that time.

Yet the rhythms and the setting belong to the present, with subtle and not-so-subtle influences from hip-hop, funk, and electronica finding their way into the mix. “K.K.P.D.” (which Scott says stands for Ku Klux Police Department) launches it with a minute-plus of Matthew Stevens’ swampy guitar run and Jamire Williams’ manic drumming before Scott steps in to blow his first coolly muted solo. The piece becomes more aggressive as it unfolds, Milton Fletcher, Jr.’s piano and Kristopher Keith Funn’s bass sending sparks in directions that often lead away from those Scott has chosen. “The Eraser,” a song adapted from Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke’s solo album of the same name, is smoother than the source material yet it’s pervaded by a deliberate, somewhat unsettling scratchiness that signals the listener not to get too comfortable. The titles of some of the other tracks alone — “Angola, LA & the 13th Amendment,” “Jenacide (The Inevitable Rise and Fall of the Bloodless Revolution),” “American’t” — serve notice that this is a record that means business. On the latter, aimed at the negativity presently pervasive in the nation, Scott takes his time developing the melodic theme and musing introspectively as the other musicians build a solid foundation under him, while “Angola…” is a brooding, if occasionally angry exposition that doubles as a showcase for Stevens’ tasteful licks. Stevens is also prominent throughout the record’s closer, which he co-wrote with Scott, “The Roe Effect (Refrain in F# Minor),” a relatively stately, albeit at times unnerving commentary on the abortion issue. The track utilizes a backward recording technique in its latter half, ostensibly to juxtapose the opposing viewpoints on the charged issue, but also, one supposes, to remind the listener that the open-mindedness that goes into creating music as moving and commanding as this is also something we need to keep in the forefront as we find our way through these troubled times.

Jeff Tamarkin (AllMusic)