Kendrick Scott Oracle: The Source (2007)
Kendrick Scott's debut recording The Source exudes a sense of purpose with music that is carefully orchestrated, coolly executed, and has an appeal that is both contemporary and cerebral. Scott's respect for the art form is cognizant of the greats that have come before him, but clearly personifies his own voice alongside contemporaries like drummers Brian Blade and Eric Harland. He provides more than the element of keeping time by providing contour and feeling into his trap work, as recently witnessed on trumpeter Terence Blanchard's Flow (Blue Note, 2005).
This is music with a new outlook, as Scott's own group Oracle unites young players who are helping to shape today's music, including pianist Robert Glasper, guitarist Lionel Loueke, and saxophonist Seamus Blake. Together under Scott's impressive leadership they breathe life into freshly penned material including a unique version of "107 Steps, by Icelandic singer Bjork.
Both atmospheric and earthy, the music shows Scott's compositional prowess starting with the pensive and swelling "View From Above, featuring a breath-taking solo by guitarist Mike Moreno and a lush sax dialogue between Seamus Blake and Myron Walden that builds in intensity. Scott's drumming is excellent as his percussion flourishes within the music; never overpowering yet always in command. One of the many stand-outs is "Search for Noesis, finding Scott in a duo piece where he artfully improvises alongside a repeated guitar riff that is quite memorable.
Band members, many of which are long time associates, appear on various cuts, bringing their individual giftslike singer Gretchen Parlato's lovely vocals on "Journey, Myron Walden's robust bass clarinet on "Memory's Wavering Echo, and Aaron Parks' touching piano on "View From Above (Reprise).
The hip-hop/neo-soul referenced "VCB might be the only slight misstep with its muddled sound effects but the ending tunes "Psalm and "Retrospect with Scott's illuminating drumming and wonderful contributions from allmake The Source one of this years outstanding releases.
Track Listing: View From Above; Mantra; 107 Steps; Search For Noesis; Journey; VCB; Memory's Wavering Echo; View From Above (reprise); The Source; Psalm; Retrospect.
Personnel: Kendrick Scott: drums, voice (2,9,11); Gretchen Parlato: voice (6); Aaron Parks: piano (1,3,5,8,9,10), Fender Rhodes (2,6,7,11); Robert Glasper: piano (2), Fender Rhodes (9); Lionel Loueke: guitar (2,3); Lage Lund: guitar (6,7,9,10); Mike Moreno: guitar (1,4,5,6,7,11); Walter Smith III: tenor sax (1,5,10); Seamus Blake: tenor sax (1,5,10); Myron Walden: alto sax (1,7), soprano sax (2,3,9), bass clarinet(3,7,11); Derrick Hodge: acoustic bass (1,3,7,9,10), electric bass (2,6,11).