Kendrick Scott Oracle, Conviction
Broad themes, big idealism and a wide musical palette
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred let us so love; where there is doubt let us so faith; where there is despair let us so hope; where there is darkness let us so light.” So Kendrick Scott prays over “Pendulum,” which starts off his third album Conviction with all the anticipation of an impending thunderstorm, all brisk rhythmic winds and enveloping atmospheres. Here the 32-year-old drummer/composer goes for broad themes, big idealism and a wide musical palette. Like the Bruce Lee sample that graces Scott’s “Be Water,” Conviction flows freely, the music morphing from intimate straight ahead (“I Have A Dream”) to Charles Earland worthy, odd metered cosmic funk (“Cycling Through Reality”) to improvisational R&B (“Too Much”). At its core, the collection reflects Kendrick Scott, the thinker, a musician with a musical vision reflected by a suite-like cohesiveness that mirrors his masterful skills as a drummer (Terence Blanchard, Kenny Garrett, Gretchen Parlato) and his expressiveness as a composer. For its sense of cohesiveness and continuity alone, Conviction is an album in the classic sense of the word. A sprightly, air-filled drum solo opens “Cycling Through Reality,” an odd metered rally through the sweet guitar of Mike Moreno, a soaring solo by saxophonist/bass clarinetist John Ellis, and the empathetic piano of Taylor Eigsti (Scott and Eigsti form a dual rhythmic juggernaut throughout). “Apollo” creates a gentle, Pat Metheny-esque rural vision, “Serenity” an introspective palette of acoustic guitars, sizzling cymbal and pop vocal, “Memory of Enchantment” further moments of piano endowed solace. Next to last, “Be Water” invokes another prayer in the form of a Bruce Lee sample: “Here is natural instinct and here is control. You are to combine the two in harmony. Be water, my friend. Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water.” Scott and Oracle swirl through the song, immersed in improvisation, inspired by Lee’s directive to follow the shape of the music wherever it may lead them with fervor and intensity.