Christian Scott – Yesterday You Said Tomorrow

Christian Scott
Yesterday You Said Tomorrow
Concord – 2010

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 Depaituient,” a reference to what Scott calls the “phenomenally dark and evil” attitude by 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. “If you’re black, and you get caught in the wrong place on the wrong night, they may do some Klan stuff to you,” he says. “That’s always the thought in the back of your mind.”

Scott wipes away some of the-darker shades in “Eraser,” the melodic followup track penned by singer-songwriter Thom Yorke, co-founder and frontman of Radiohead (the song is the title track to Yorke’s solo debut, released in 2006). 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,qhe (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.”

Further in, “Angola, LA & The 13th Amendment” is fueled by Scott’s alternately melancholy and soaring trumpet lines and Williams’ crashing ,drums, and punctuated by Stevens’ plaintive guitar. The song equates certain aspects of the prison system with slavery. “You go to places like Angola, and you see these convicts doing very daunting manual labor,” says Scott. “Of course, if you’ve been convicted of a crime and you’re guilty, then you should be punished. And you should be rehabilitated. But I know personally that there are people there who are not guilty, and for that to be their plight shames me as an American.”

The introspective “The Last Broken Heart” was inspired by the debate over gay marriage. “It’s a very challenging song to play, but the,sinall dissonances within the song make it very captivating,” says Scott. “What could be more beautiful than two people deciding to love each other? It’s better than two people deciding tqlate each other, but somehow that’s more acceptable.”

Pitting a melodic trumpet line against a tense rhythmic undercurrent, “The American’t” is a reflection on the negativity that persists in the aftermath of the history-making presidential election of 2008. “There was so much hope and positivity, but at the same time, there were people who insisted on taking a really dark view of the events,” says Scott. “The song is about how people can harbor some very negative aspirations for our country, all under the guise of patriotism.”