For many years, Rodney Kendrick was the musical director and pianist for Abbey Lincoln. The 54 year old pianist and keyboarder wanted to express, as he states in the liner notes of his new trio album “The Colors Of Rhythm” (Impulse), “the sweet and the sour, the dark and the light, the bad and the good, as well as the brilliant overlooked beauty that is intrinsically woven throughout this music.”
Over the years, Kendrick, who was born in Philadelphia and raised in Miami, has learned from and played with the greatest. Barry Harris taught him the literacy of the music and once he arrived in New York, soon after he was part of the Art Blakey Breakfast Jam, a session that started early in the mornings and went on for hours with a lot of peers attending.
One of the artists from those days is Cindy Blackman Santana who Kendrick is using as his drummer for the new album. He even named a song after her (“Cindy”) which is a rather short, but effective showcase for the vibrant musician.
Kendrick has released some fantastic, but somehow overlooked albums in the past. There’s the world music style, exotic “Last Chance For Common Sense” from 1996, or the Hip Hop, Rap and Funk infused “No Dress Code” from 2000. But he always went back to the good old trio format in between. His old pal Curtis Lundy rounds out his band on bass and of the eight tracks in total, half of them are his interpretations of classics like “Body And Soul” or “Round Midnight”, all played with a heavy Gospel and Blues background.
More convincing are his own compositions and he ends his new album with a nod to his former boss, Abbey Lincoln, who was also known as Aminata Moseka, who was his musical mother. The track sums up the essence of what Abbey Lincoln’s music was about: beauty and the pursuit of something bigger and better.