Tag Archives: Art

Art Imitates Life, And Vice Versa: Christian Scott And ‘Treme’

Fans of the trumpeter and bandleader Christian Scott may know that he’s done a little acting, appearing briefly in feature films like Rachel Getting Married and Leatherheads. Fans of the HBO program Treme know that he not only appears on camera: His life story partially inspired the character Delmond Lambreaux, a jazz trumpeter who has left New Orleans to pursue a career in New York. In fact, in episode one of season two, the character Delmond and the real Scott appeared on screen together, “performing” in New York City.

But if art imitated life, then life might just be imitating art in return. With the impending release of his new album Christian aTunde Adjuah, which you can currently hear via NPR Music’s First Listen series, Scott’s actual career now appears to mirror that of his fictional counterpart.

It’s far from an exact parallel, of course. But here are a few of the details. (Spoiler alert applies for those who haven’t seen the show.)

Christian Scott now lives in Harlem, but is from a musical family in New Orleans. His grandfather, Donald Harrison Sr., founded the real-life Guardians of the Flame Indian tribe; his uncle, Donald Harrison Jr., took over as Big Chief of the Guardians of the Flame, and is a noted saxophonist. Scott is clearly talented; he was drafted into his uncle’s band as a teenager, assuring that he has a strong command of the jazz tradition. But compared against the New Orleans canon, he has insisted on his own distinctly modern artistic direction, one which “stretches” the conventions of jazz. Continue reading

Detroit’s Jazz ‘Patriarch’ Improvised A Teaching Career

There’s a lot of astounding information in this comprehensive profile of trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, “the reigning patriarch of Detroit jazz.” After touring with Ray Charles for years, and getting opportunities with Max Roach and Charles Mingus, Belgrave opted not to stick it out in New York like many musicians of his caliber. Instead, he chose Detroit, where he’s been since 1963.

Belgrave is still performing and recording, in spite of chronic lung disease which keeps him under oxygen all the time — and regularly lands him in the hospital. In fact, doctors have told him that practicing the trumpet so much has actually kept his lungs in working order.

What I find most interesting about this story, written by Detroit Free Press music writer Mark Stryker, is Belgrave’s legacy as a teacher. His students include Geri Allen, Kenny Garrett and Regina Carter, to name a few international-scale bandleaders. I think it sheds a little light on how jazz is and can be transmitted. Continue reading