Kendrick Scott Oracle

A Wall Becomes A Bridge
(Blue Note)

Kendrick Scott seldom bashes for attention. Instead, he deploys his drumming arsenal in such sublime, communicative fashion that its obvious virtuosic showmanship is not the goal.

His first release in five years, A Wall Becomes A Bridge verifies Scott’s artistic prowess as it pivots on dual themes. The more obvious one is political, relating to President Donald Trump’s aggressive push for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. The more personal theme touches on Scott’s struggle with writer’s block. Bassist and producer Derrick Hodge encouraged the bandleader to examine then utilize his fears, insecurities and anxieties surrounding the creation of the new album. The result is an engrossing 12-song cycle, marked by curling melodies, pastel harmonies and, at times, sweeping rhythmic velocity.

Scott adds more intrigue by programming the narrative in reverse. The disc opens with the evocative “>>>>>>>>>>>>NewEyes” as turntablist Jahi Sundance’s granulose soundscape underpins guitarist Mike Moreno and saxophonist John Ellis’ gossamer melodies. Scott’s symphonic cymbal work colors the music with silvery splashes while Joe Sanders’ arco bass lines thicken the music.

Placing high premiums on subtle dialogue and floating melodicism, Oracle, Scott’s longstanding ensemble, unfurls a sense of wonder on the probing “>>Nemesis,” which features a beautiful bass clarinet improvisation from Ellis.

The disc requires concentrated, repeated listening in the intended song sequence to reap its whispering splendor. But it rewards handsomely each time.

On Sale Now
May 2024
Stefon Harris
Look Inside
Print | Digital | iPad