By Ethan Bakuli
This Valentine’s day, the University of Massachusetts Amherst Fine Arts Center was welcome to a special performance by New Orleans trumpeter and composer Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and his quintet.
Performing in the Bowker Auditorium, Adjuah’s Feb. 14 concert came at the end of a week-long tour across the Pioneer Valley through the Billy Taylor Endowment for Jazz Residencies, teaching and working with local high school and Five College students in masterclass workshops and one-on-one student critiques.
In 2017, Adjuah released The Centennial Trilogy, a three album series—March’s Ruler Rebel, June’s Diaspora, and October’s The Emancipation Procrastination—pays tribute to the 100th anniversary of the first jazz recording in 1917, while assessing the present-day landscape of the country and envisioning the future of jazz music to come. The night’s concert included renditions of tracks from the trilogy, alongside improvisations by Adjuah and his quintet.
Adjuah is most known for coining the term “stretch music,” a name for his genre-bending sound that aimed to merge the melodies, rhythms and harmonies between the West African, First Nation and Caribbean musical culture that gave way to jazz, blues, hip hop and rock.
Connecting jazz music to past and present musical forms comes at a time when Adjuah hopes to look past classicism and tribalism in art and society and look toward bridging sounds and people.
“Stretch Music is as much a philosophy as it is a stance in music,” said Adjuah in a 2015 interview with 64 Parishes. “In order to stretch music you have to be able to stretch yourself.”
In March of this year, Adjuah is set to release another album, titled Ancestral Recall.