Christian Scott was early for dinner in downtown Manhattan, killing time at the bar with a lemonade. In his hands was a copy of DownBeat; his image was on the cover. “I was just looking at this,” he said, casually brandishing the magazine when I showed up. His tone conveyed neither abashment nor self-conceit. He was drawing attention to a fact.
Sporting a plaid dress shirt, untucked but crisp, under a light-wool cardigan, Scott gave off the air of a young man who carefully monitors his surroundings—and just as carefully gauges the weight of his presence. He was feeling a bit under the weather, he cautioned, perhaps as a result of the breakneck European tour from which he had just returned. Encroaching illness aside, he was feeling good: The tour, timed to usher in the release of his new Concord album, Yesterday You Said Tomorrow, had been a knockout.