Dred Scott Trio: Dred Scott Trio with Kenny Brooks (2005)
On first glance, the most striking thing about this disc is the leader's historically significant name, related to a paradigm of injustice that still resonates through the continuum of racism and social reform. But the issue of real name or stage name is quickly made irrelevant by the group's shimmering talent. Another striking thing about the disc is its anachronistic brevity: the disc clocks in at just over 37 minutes. The conciseness and on-point musicality recall a time when jazz players' eloquent and enduring statements were long enough to make their points without defeating their own purposes. Jazz lovers can sample this on Tuesdays during Scott's midnight set at the Rockwood Music Hall, where he leads a trio featuring bassist Ben Rubin and drummer Diego Voglino through a wide range of originals and standards, all played with style and verve.
The tunes on the disc are originals, with Scott sharing the writing duties with bassist Wilbur Krebs. Krebs' "(Rumpled) Wilskins begins with a lyrical, sparkling statement by Scott, a Jarrett-like calm before the storm, before the rest of the group jumps in with a jazz-funk riff, with Scott and Krebs playing the theme in tandem. Guest Kenny Brooks builds strong and lyrical harmonic ideas on the tenor, Krebs ditty-bops on electric bass, and the underappreciated Kenny Wollesen shines on drums. Scott's solo here is wonderfully constructed, punctuating the ideas he hinted at in his opening with flowing harmonic riffs.
Scott's "Regrets is a brooding, soft bop tune on a slow burn, skillfully interpreted by the band, with Scott playing a thoughtful, melodically flowing solo before Brooks lowers the curtain with his feather-soft tenor. Krebs' "King Biscuit is a burner with quickly shifting tempos and textures. Scott builds the tension slowly, leading to a fiery solo by Brooks, who zips and weaves along the melody/harmony like a Formula One driver. Wollesen provides the accents on cymbals and snare and then it's Scott's turn to shine, soloing with an ingenuity and ease that recalls Kenny Kirkland. The disc concludes with the ballad "Bobo, on which Krebs plays the acoustic guitar as well as the bass, with more lush and introspective piano from Scott that recalls Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner.
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Track Listing: (Rumpled) Wilskins; Regrets; King Biscuit; Bobo.
Personnel: Dred Scott: piano; Wilbur Krebs: bass; Kenny Wollesen: drums; Kenny Brooks: tenor saxophone.
Record Label: Robertson