In other words: the history of American popular music. You might not be able to decode every reference that went into "K.K.P.D," but the distillation makes for a powerful brew — something to which anyone who's seen Scott's band live can attest. (Pianist Milton Fletcher Jr. and bassist Kristopher Keith Funn fill out the crew, who come to Scullers March 24.) Scott's own playing, like his songs, tends to develop at a slow boil — you don't hear a lot of happy, fleet, chord-stuffed bebop on his albums. And rather than creating tight songforms that everyone can solo over, he offers yet another slant on the pop-bred instincts of current jazz: long lyric arcs of melody over spare or static harmonies with carefully arranged solo interludes. There are jazz chords, even dabs of swing, but more typical is a cover of a composer who has become a favorite of new-jazz players, Thom Yorke ("Eraser"). The spirit of pop songwriting even informs the mini-epic "An Unending Repentance," with its featured solos for piano, guitar, and trumpet.
Scott's pieces are often musically enacted dialogues — like "American't," where Stevens's cyclical guitar part is a foil. "It's about an argument I had with someone. The beginning of the argument was this person ranting and raving and talking in circles about the same shit, like a broken record. So for the first minute and half, I don't play a note, I don't say a word, I was just listening to this person babbling on." The song is written in 11, "so something about it doesn't quite link up." Even if you don't know what that argument was about, you know it was about something. That emotional content continues to make Scott a more compelling artist than the average virtuoso.
Much of the life of the local scene is created at a grassroots level in alternative spaces and small clubs — Rob Chalfen at Outpost 186, Gil Aharon at the Lily Pad, Molly Flannery at the Acton Jazz Café, or Anita Coelho in her "World Wednesdays" series at Ryles. Coelho pegs the series as "world-influenced jazz," but it can also stretch to include indigenous sounds like the Tex-Mex folk of La Tuza, or someone from a foreign country who just happens to play jazz. Outstanding musicians like Nando Michelin, Fernando Brandão, Fernando Huergo, Florencia Gonzalez, Leo Genovese, Maeve Gilchrist, and Geni Skendo (an Albanian playing Japanese shakuhachi flute) have all been regulars on the "World Wednesday" stage since it emerged in September 2004.
THE CONNECTOR: For Coelho, singing is just part of the picture.
Aside from her skills as a creative booker, Coelho has developed a formidable reputation as a singer of Brazilian music. This Tuesday, she'll bring a typically top-flight band to another venue, the Regattabar: bassist Huergo, pianist and vibraphonist Alexei Tsiganov, saxophonist Bill Vint, drummer Renato Malvasi, and percussionist Bertram Lehmann.
Coelho comes from a mixed background, and she wears a lot of hats. Her mother is from Bangor, Maine, her father (a Portuguese-literature professor) from Belém do Pará, Brazil. Originally trained in the visual arts, she moved into advertising and marketing, and for the past five years or so she's been an interpreter for the Cambridge Health Alliance — using the Portuguese with which she was brought up.