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Arts and Entertainment

Interview: Christian Scott, Jazz Trumpeter

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Christian Scott is in town performing at Catalina Jazz Club tonight through Saturday

Before he was old enough to rent a car, trumpeter Christian Scott had garnered a Grammy nomination, played alongside Prince, appeared on the big screen with George Clooney and earned countless accolades from fellow musicians, industry heavyweights and members of the media alike. The 25 year-old New Orleans native who has been called "the new voice in jazz trumpet" and "a young talent on the rise" recently released his third album Live at Newport. Recorded at the renowned Newport Jazz Festival, Scott masterfully performs new material along with songs from his sophomore album Anthem and Grammy nominated debut Rewind That. Scott, who is in town for a series of shows at the Catalina Jazz Club tonight through Saturday, took some time to speak with LAist.

What are you looking forward to doing while you are here in LA?
I am probably going to see if I can catch a Lakers game while I am out here. I am a big Lakers fan. Even with the Hornets moving to New Orleans, I am still a Lakers fan. When I was growing up, the Lakers were always on TV back home.

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Besides a possible trip to the Staples Center, do you have any other places you like going to while you are here?
Not anywhere in particular. I like going to the Beverly Center. I like the way people in LA get all dressed up to go to shopping. I enjoy making fun of people dressed up in Prada boots to shop at Old Navy.

Your age comes up very often. The fact that you are 25 is very big deal, yet if you were a pop star and not a jazz musician it would not be as important to mention your age. Why do you think that this is the case?
I have never perceived myself as a jazz musician. I consider myself a musician. I think the reason why you'll hear my age brought up so frequently is because jazz is perceived to be one of the more difficult musical forms of the world. Typically the greater performers in jazz seem to begin to make their marks when they are in their 30s.

Christian Scott - "Litany Against Fear" | Live at Newport

You are a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston. In an interview you did with you mention the financial struggles you have seen fellow classmates go through. What lessons have you learned from seeing that?
Drive trumps everything. Drive trumps talent. Drive trumps who you know. Drive trumps good looks. I'm not going to sit here and say that the people who get opportunities aren't always the most talented, they get opportunities for who they know or other reasons. But it's the ones that work the hardest that succeed at the opportunities that are given to them. If you work hard, things will be okay for you. It's the cats that think they are working hard, the ones who are busy telling people how hard they work while they are out at the club, that will have trouble getting more and more opportunities down the road. If you work so hard, why are you out at the club? The hard working artists are reclusive. A good time to them is staying in and writing or working.

How important is accessibility to jazz music?
Accessibility is important to all art. The masses can't like or dislike what they don't know. A lot of people would probably like jazz, and probably do, they just don't know it because they haven't had access to it. In popular culture, the thing that is pushed is the thing that is going to make the most money. Jazz has the same thing. Jazz makes a lot of money. There are a lot of institutions that make a lot of money off of jazz, and would like to keep it that way. In order for something to go mainstream, it has to be liked by teenagers. Teenagers have disposable income, they have leisure time and leisure money so they are the target audience when you want to go mainstream. The people who market our music, for whatever reason, don't see it as something that the masses can get into it because it's not on MTV. We can bore you with the intricate things about our music, and laugh at the music that you listen to on the radio but who cares. Let's not be so elitist.

On the Live at Newport DVD, you said Miles Davis was "one of the few guys who had the conviction that is required to make music," what do you consider to be conviction?
Yes, Miles had that conviction. What I mean is that when he found himself, he invested in it. Others might have felt that some of the things he was doing didn't make any sense, but he said "let them make their own music." He just stuck to his guns. I heard him make a statement that music is like food, if you don't like it push it aside and eat what you do like. I couldn't agree with that more.

Speaking of Miles, his name comes up quite a bit when people speak about you. With all that talk about Miles, and all this talk about your age and what potential you have, do you feel any pressure to live up to these expectations?
I don't view it as pressure. Whether I am making good music or not, I am still valid as a human being. If someone says what I do isn't good, it doesn't really matter because I am going to continue doing it for the simple fact that I have to eat. You saying that is not going to stop me because I need to survive. Lots of times when people are saying negative things, or giving an artist a bad reviews, their first reaction is to get angry. Artists are passionate about what they do, so some don't take a bad review all that well. People can be harsh and mean, but I try not to care what people think. If I am doing a show and you don't like my music, you don't have to come see me. You can stay at home. I know not every artist sees it that way. I have seen some artists get so angry that they want to go hit someone for criticizing their work. You got to be careful about you say, it's someone's art that you are talking about. I don't get like that though, there are more important things to worry about like clean water in Uganda.

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