Kendrick Scott: Conviction of a Jazz Oracle
KS: I grew up Baptist Christian, in church and everything, and it is all connected to me because I think playing music, again, is a sonic meditation. I think about it as one of the highest forms of being. So to me, it is definitely connected to what I do because what I do gives me perspective; I rise. Somebody asked me once, "Why do you play music for?" and I came across that prayer, and that is the first prayer that you hear when you start playing Conviction. "Lord, make me an instrument for thy peace." So I found that as I became an instrument, in my living and what my life is about, not only as a drummer and a band leader and all of that, but if I can do that in my community and so forth, this whole earth, if I become an instrument of peace, then everything has more meaning, and it can be reflected on my music. On each of my drum sticks, that prayer is written. So every time I look at those sticks, it puts everything into perspective. That is where my faith is truly connected with the way I play and why I play and everything.
AAJ: How did jazz happen for you? ten KS: I was in the marching band in middle school, and I wanted to go to a marching-band high school, one of the best in Texas. And my mom was like, "How many professional bands do you see out there?" There were none. So, "If you really want to play and deal with these drums, you need to go to a performing-arts high school." So at the time, I started studying with a teacher, and I learned a drum solo to get in the school. Imagine my first day of high school. There was Robert Glasper, Mike Moreno, Mark Kelly, all of these guys. "Wait a minute, this is fun!" That's how I got into jazz. Everybody was so creative. We were having fun. We didn't know what we were really doing. We were listening to the records and figuring out where it was going, but it was fun, and we still do that. But at the time it was fun, and it still is fun. That is why we are connected to this creative music we call jazz. Or what Nick Payton calls "BAM!" [Laughs.]
AAJ: Who have you learned the most from so far?
KS: That's a hard question. My mother is one of the biggest influences in my life. I can go by time. My mom is the first and longest influence, all my life. And then Terence Blanchard, whom I have known for 10 years. Everything that he has has been part of me in those years. Mostly everything that has happened in my career has been connected with his words, his actions, letting me be blessed to play with Herbie Hancock and James Moody and all of these different people that I came to play with by playing with him. Then my brother. When you can see somebody with a humble spiritone of your peers doing great things, who is talented and doing great deedsstanding next to you and shows you that you can do it, he is one of those people that I love having in my life, for me and for our whole community of people. So my mother, Terence and my brother. There's many more people, but maybe these are the ones that keep me grounded.
AAJ: You are a grateful man.
KS: Oh, I am! I am blessed.
AAJ: Can you see yourself doing something different, hypothetically, with your life, if you were not a musician?
KS: Oh, I would love to play basketball, but I am not cut out for that. I love sports so much, and to me it is so akin to music. There's empathy, leadership, sharingI get the same feeling from it.
Kendrick Scott Oracle, Conviction (Concord, 2013)
Gretchen Parlato, The Lost and Found (ObliqSound, 2011)
Mike Moreno, First in Mind (Criss Cross, 2011)
Kendrick Scott, Reverence (Criss Cross, 2010)
Chihiro Yamanaka, Forever Begins (Verve, 2010)
Myron Walden, What We Share (Demi Sound, 2010)
Myron Walden, To Feel (Demi Sound, 2010)
Will Vinson, Stockholm Syndrome (Criss Cross, 2010)
Gretchen Parlato, In a Dream (ObliqSound, 2009)
Terence Blanchard, Choices (Concord, 2009)
Mike Moreno, Third Wish (Criss Cross, 2009)
Myron Walden, Momentum (Demi Sound, 2009)
Lage Lund, Early Songs (Criss Cross 2008)
Chihiro Yamanaka, Abyss (Verve, 2007)
Terence Blanchard, A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina) (Blue Note, 2007)
Kendrick Scott, The Source (World Culture Music, 2006)
Danny Grissett, Promise (Criss Cross, 2006)
Patrick Cornelius, Lucid Dream (Acoustic Recording, 2006)
Terence Blanchard, Flow (Blue Note, 2005)
David Doruzka, Hidden Paths (Cube-Metier, 2004)
All Photos: Courtesy of Kendrick Scott