18 MAR 13 JONATHAN WIDRAN
Since it’s been six years between The Source, the debut album by the renowned jazz drummer and his group Kendrick Scott Oracle, and their upcoming Concord Jazz debut Conviction, a little background check is in order. Before finishing high school, Scott won numerous Downbeat Magazine student awards as well as the Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Award from the International Association of Jazz Educators and the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts. After majoring in music education on scholarship at Berklee School of Music, he toured with The Crusaders before becoming part of Terence Blanchard’s band for most of the last 10 years. Blanchard encouraged Scott to record his debut, which the drummer now dubs a “potluck project.”
Calling the Oracle’s new CD Conviction is a reflection of Scott’s desire to make it a true band statement. Said ensemble currently includes saxophonist and bass clarinetist John Ellis, guitarist Mike Moreno (the only holdover from The Source), pianist and labelmate Taylor Eigsti and bassist Joe Sanders. Guest vocalist and guitarist Alan Hampton adds touches of hypnotic liquid soul to avant poster Sufjan Stevens’ “Too Much” and the dreamy “Serenity.”
One of the album’s unique conceits is running the eleven tracks as a continuous stream of music without breaks, which creates a vibe that’s more of an overall single sweeping soundscape than a gathering of individualized musical statements. Scott and his cohorts set the tone by digging into his gospel roots for a traditional prayer. This swings quickly into the whimsical, old school soul-jazz flavored “Pendulum,” driven by Ellis’ colorful sax jaunts.