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Kendrick Scott: Conviction of a Jazz Oracle

By Published: April 29, 2013
AAJ: Does any of those convictions speak to you more than the others?

KS: The one that really gets to me is courage, and that one is really connected to what we were talking about, the reason why I made the record, and the song that goes with it is called "Cycling Through Reality." And what that is about is the challenges that we deal with on a day-to-day basis, that they can make us or break us, in a way, because if we don't face those challenges, I feel like we are missing out on something, because I believe that life is unfolding within us and around us at all times. And if we come back to that same place every day and we don't face that conversation that we need to have with somebody, we don't face that issue that I need to practice with my drums or I don't face that issue of my relationship with my community ... those are the things that challenge us, and we have to have that courage to face those things so that we can embrace the unfolding inside us and around us. So that one, for me, gets me specially community-wise. Now I am starting to think that playing the drums and making good records isn't enough; it's time to get out in the community and help other people in other ways other than just playing music. So there's that courage of saying, "OK, how else can I help people and how else can I challenge myself by dealing with those challenges and making them opportunities?"

AAJ: What is the deepest purpose of your music?

KS: Well, I was just talking to somebody else about the name of the band, and the reason why I named the band Oracle had to do with one of my idols, Art Blakey
Art Blakey
Art Blakey
1919 - 1990
. Him and Horace Silver
Horace Silver
Horace Silver
named that band The Jazz Messengers, and the thought of a band bringing a message to people is one of the most beautiful things that I have ever experienced, and I wanted to connect with that. At the same time, I was watching "The Matrix," randomly enough. I noticed that every time Neo went to the Oracle, she never really gave them any answers. She made him look within to find the answers, and she made him have a dialogue within himself and with other people. So that's what I wanted the Oracle band to be about- -not just about sending out messages but creating a dialogue. The purpose of the band itself is to create a dialogue—a dialogue about conviction, a dialogue about peace, a dialogue about freedom, a dialogue about passion—so that we don't forget and we don't take for granted the things that we have and that we deal with every day, because I think that if we increase our awareness, to really be thankful for those things, then our lives would be better for it. Increasing that awareness of self, and to go inward, that would actually help your outward thinking.

AAJ: And why did you choose Bruce Lee to be water?

KS: That was a really random thing! One of my friends from high school and I were out at a bar one day, and we were just talking about random, random things, and he brought up Bruce Lee and talked about how much of a great thinker he was, and he showed me this link for a Bruce Lee interview, and I watched this interview online, which was his very last interview. The things that he was saying spoke to me so much because if you think about the mantra of being water, being malleable, being able to fit in a cup, being able to fit in a picture of glass, being like the ocean or being like a drop, I think we all in our lives want to be like that. But it is hard to do it because we approach our lives with preconceived notions and thoughts that sometimes we judge things beforehand; before we even get somewhere we are already judging it, and I think that the mantra of being water was so heavy to me that I had to write something around it.

To take it even deeper as a jazz artist, or a so-called jazz artist, he starts talking about styles, and while he is talking about styles he talks about how art is living, and I was like, "Wow, seriously, art is always living. That means you can't really say what style it is because it is still living." So everything that we are creating, everything that we are placing together is actually a breathing, living thing; so being water in that way also is pretty amazing. So I had to deal with that; I really had to deal with that. Which, in all of that, it involves the sense of surrender, which is the conviction behind that one. You have to surrender to whatever the situation is and make the best out of it. All of the convictions are tied up together. I think that's what the beauty of it is. The conviction of surrender kind of goes back to the thing of who you are versus who you want to be. It all starts there, and it all comes back to that. That's why I chose Bruce Lee.

AAJ: You are a deep human being. You talk about a journey of self-discovery and about pushing the audience to ask deeper questions about meaning. Do you ever feel your music can't express everything you are thinking?

KS: No, I think my music is my most honest form of being. I think of playing music as sonic meditation. When I think about meditating, and I actually had this conversation with another musician, I sit and I try to meditate sometimes, and I can't stop my mind from talking. You know, you can't ever really stop it, but I think what you are supposed to do is come out of yourself and watch your mind talk—that awareness of seeing your conscious talking—then you can kind of shut it down a little bit. I do get to that sometimes with meditation, but when I play my music, it takes me there—it takes me to a place of complete freedom where I can shut my mind down. I am not thinking of who is in the room or what drums am I playing and all of that stuff. So I think that's my most honest form of communication that I have today. Of course, I want to become a better human being—I am more than just a musician. But I feel that I can at least try to convey all of those feelings and that I work every day to try to convey those feelings, to learn my instrument in such a way that I can convey all of those feelings. But again, you never know. The mysticism of the oracle, its beauty, is that you never know how the message is going to be received. Everybody is going to receive their individual message; I may be trying to portray a sense of anger, and somebody else might get a sense of triumph, you just don't know. It can be received in many different ways. I guess, to me, I feel the most grounded in that way, in my music.

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