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The Source by Kendrick Scott

The Source doesn’t sound like a drummer’s album. And that’s by design. Like other younger musicians, Kendrick Scott is more interested in the totality of effect, collective spirit, fascinating textures and prismatic colors than he is in the drummer’s traditional role as percussionist or time-keeper. A graduate of Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, as were Jason Moran and Beyoncé, Scott at times remains in the background of the performances, adding splashes and rolls and cymballed accents to enhance the musical proceedings as the drums embellish the music rather than dominate it.

Part of Scott’s keen awareness of sonic possibilities is his interest in bass clarinet, which Myron Walden plays to enhance the timbral depth of Scott pieces like "Retrospect," whose compositional development is driven by the quiet ruminative mood that Scott intends to achieve. Walden’s presence on Bjork’s "107 Steps" assists in drenching Scott’s rendition in initial mystery. Eventually, the song unfolds into brighter streams of feeling after Aaron Parks’s piano solo when Walden switches to soprano saxophone, elevating the ideas to a higher plane of musical dialogue with Parks guitarist Lionel Loueke. Scott’s sense of atmospheric evocation attains lyrical depiction on "Journey," which vocalist Gretchen Parlato piquantly describes with a floating quality and with wide intervals made possible by her broad range.

Similar to the interests of other musicians his age and particularly those he has known since high school in Houston, such as pianist Robert Glasper, guitarist Mike Moreno and saxophonist Walter Smith III Scott investigates, and sometimes merges, divergent styles that influence him. Glasper’s influence is especially felt on "VCB," a two-minute interlude of hip-hop origin that was one of Scott’s first compositions. On the other hand, "Psalm" makes clear the spiritual foundation which has infused Scott’s music since he performed at the age of six with his family in the church. With its complex matrix of interwoven textures, "Psalm" rises from a sense of increasing excitation to which Scott contributes surging dynamics and splashes of color that back Seamus Blake’s gorgeous saxophone work.

The title of The Source derives from one of the highlights of Scott’s musical career so far: his participation in the recording of Terence Blanchard’s Blue Note album, Flow, on which Herbie Hancock performed Scott’s composition. Now, "The Source," with its build-up from Derrick Hodge’s bass line vamp to harmonic layers by saxophone, guitar and piano, represents Scott’s growth as a composer and as a band leader. Scott is establishing himself as a drummer whose scope encompasses the entirety of the group’s sound and its connection to the human experience.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Kendrick Scott
  • CD Title: The Source
  • Genre: Various Jazz Styles
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: World Culture Music
  • Tracks: View From Above, Mantra, 107 Steps, Search For Noesis, Journey, VCB, Memory’s Wavering Echo, View From Above (Reprise), The Source, Psalm, Retrospect
  • Musicians: Kendrick Scott (drums, voice), Myron Walden (alto sax, soprano sax, bass clarinet), Seamus Blake, Walter Smith III (tenor sax), Aaron Parks, Robert Glasper (piano, Fender Rhodes), Lionel Loueke, Lage Lund, Mike Moreno (guitar), Derrick Hodge (bass), Gretchen Parlato (voice)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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