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The Green Room

Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah: Revolutionizing Jazz with Stretch Music

Posted: 04/09/24

Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah: Revolutionizing Jazz with Stretch Music

Photo Credit: Jati Lindsay

By Charlie Pingel

With six GRAMMY nominations and a rich heritage rooted in West African and New Orleanian culture, Chief Adjuah's transformative blend of genres and influences, known as Stretch Music, pushes the boundaries of jazz and beyond. From his custom instruments to his latest creation, the Adjuah Bow, Chief Adjuah continues to captivate audiences worldwide. Immerse yourself in the groundbreaking performance of Chief Adjuah (formerly Christian Scott), a musical visionary, as he graces the Shannon Hall stage on Thursday, May 2nd. 

Chief Adjuah was born as Christian Scott on March 31, 1983 in New Orleans. He hails from a family with a rich musical and cultural history in the city and is the nephew of Donald Harrison Jr., a renowned jazz saxophonist and Big Chief of The Congo Square Nation Afro-New Orleans Cultural Group. 

Adjuah was raised in the Maroon culture and Mardi Gras Indian tradition of New Orleans but prefers to identify as "Afro-New Orleanian." Adjuah’s multicultural influences inspired him to develop a new blend of genres, called Stretch Music, to “...stretch the definition of jazz beyond the prescriptivist definitions of music."

Adjuah's sixth studio album, Yesterday You Said Tomorrow, introduced Stretch Music to the world and earned him one of his two Edison Awards. In 2014, he founded the Stretch Music label under Ropeadope Records, which now boasts five artists and over 10 studio albums. The Stretch Music App was developed in 2015, featuring a customizable music player for Adjuah's album titled Stretch Music. This innovative player empowers musicians to “take complete control of their practicing, listening, and learning experience by tailoring it to their unique needs and goals.”

Through his many innovations, he has developed his own custom instruments that showcase his unique trumpet-playing techniques. Among his line of brass instruments through Adams Instruments are the Siren, Sirenette, and Reverse Flugel (also known as the Adjuah Trumpet). Adjuah is also skilled in playing the soprano trombone, a less-common brass instrument favored among the likes of Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie. His latest creation, the Adjuah Bow, is a double-sided electric harp, first introduced to the public in 2022.

Watch Adjuah play the Adjuah Bow on Bark Out Thunder Roar Out Lightning, the title track of his album the New York Times named “Best Jazz Album of 2023:”

Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah: Bark Out Thunder Roar Out Lightning | Sessions | Gagosian Premieres

When asked about his inspirations for the album in an interview with Stereogum, Chief Adjuah said:

“I’m born into a West African stylized chiefdom system that obviously has a relationship to the First Nations persons of this country. And being born into that particular cultural space in New Orleans, it kind of tethers you to the roots of a lot of these expressions, you know, the musical expressions that we’re still contributing and building today.”

Adjuah adopted the stage name "Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah'' in 2012, with the latter two words paying tribute to his West African ancestry. As of now, Adjuah holds the esteemed position of Crown Chieftain of the Xodokan Nation of Maroons, a Black-Indigenous collective residing in Louisiana and New Orleans. In 2023, Adjuah officially changed his name to Xian aTunde Adjuah and subsequently started performing under the title of Chief Adjuah.

Chief Adjuah will seamlessly complete the Wisconsin Union Theater’s 2023-2024 season arc on Thursday, May 2 at 7:30 PM in Shannon Hall.

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