Kendrick Scott Oracle – We Are The Drum

Kendrick Scott Oracle "We Are The Drum"Drummer Kendrick Scott, who turned 35 last summer, is probably best known for his work with Terence Blanchard. But he also made a lasting contribution with his own group Oracle which released its debut album almost 10 years ago and which featured Robert Glasper, Aaron Parks, Lionel Loueke, and Gretchen Parlato.

He is now back with his fourth album “We Are The Drum” which starts on a lithe and engrossing note with the title track. Saxophonist John Ellis is featured on the dreamy and ethereal “Make Believe” which also has some great strumming by guitarist Michael Moreno and an almost surreal bass solo by Joe Sanders.

Producer Derrick Hodge, who has also an album on Blue Note (“Live Today”) and has worked with the Robert Glasper Experiment in the past (as well as with Maxwell, Blanchard, Jill Scott, and a lot more), has opted for a raw and transparent sound. He wrote “The Song In Me” with guest vocalist Lizz Wright, another limpid, almost esoteric track that is graced by the sublime voice of Ms. Wright and wins over with some repetitive patterns and wondrous background vocals.

Kendrick’s empathetic drum work comes to the fore on the expressive “Mantra” which also leaves a lot of room and open skies for guitar and sax. Kendrick gets contemplative on the very imaginative piece “The Long Shadow” where John has some brilliant Wayne Shorter-like moments. One of the highlights on this album. There is also a cover of the Flying Lotus tune “Never Catch Me” and even though the track starts with a drum solo, the overall sound of this piece and the entire album is not like it is all based and centered on the drum, but the drum is more intergrated in the group’s sound.

John Ellis contributed the spacy and extravagant “Milton”, a tribute to the great Brazilian artist Milton Nascimento. It’s a real builder here with one of my favorite pianists and keyboardists, Taylor Eigsti, contributing some excellent textures on this one. Guitarist Michael Moreno‘s beautiful “Lotus” has some exhilarating bass clarinet playing by John and is another very spiritual vehicle with a sensitive backing, almost like in a perfect dream. Another highlight.

Two versions appear here of “Touched By An Angel (For Maya)” which is dedicated to writer Maya Angelou whose poem of the same name worked as inspiration. Taylor plays a gorgeous solo version as the album’s closer and ends this set on a blissful note.

Kendrick plays four dates in Mexico at the end of November, also The Loft in San Diego on December 4th and the San Francisco Jazz Center on December 5th.

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