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Matthew Ruddick

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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Saturday, 28 September 2019 17:58

Kendrick Scott - A Wall Becomes A Bridge

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Some Blue Note releases sound the same, but this is different.

When I was born, I think I was already tuned into jazz, so I was excited to have the opportunity to listen to Kendrick Scott. To admit, I was also apprehensive, as many of the same artists are featured on other projects and could almost be categorised as ubiquitous.

In the commercial world, Scott may be considered an underrated musician. However, already an established and seasoned player for Blue Note, this warrior is a trailblazer. Four years into his Blue note contract and his skill sets have grown exponentially. This pioneering label known for jazz drummers including Tony Allen, Brian Blade and Art Blakey can proudly boast that Scott is part of the artillery. 

Casting a genre not understood by many, Scott has enabled our children to groove with us over his tunes for years to come. They will still groove to pop; however, their appetite will grow to appreciate the roots of jazz music, thanks to Scott and other modern contemporary pioneers. 

With his sticks in hand and flowing ideas, Scott confidently explores the conscious and much-discussed political and social topics on the end of everyone’s tongue. You cannot escape it. What Scott projects are front line tabloid and drive social media. Separating countries with walls, political, social injustice and disparity.

His approach is imaginative, His thought process is cerebral, creative and free-flowing.  I have listened to Scott over many years and am an admirer of his music 

More distinguishable from his previous album We Are The Drum (2006), Scott continues to deliver conscious music with no boundaries with the aid of his comrade, fellow musician and producer Derek Hodge. This is a high-quality production, as one would expect from Blue Note.

Thought-provoking, this fifth album A Wall Becomes A Bridge serves as a platform to express Kendrick's thoughts; a soliloquy without words on all things oppressive through the ongoing hyper-distorted political regime.  This album also reflects the challenges Kendrick faced trying to pull the album together. Hodge was there by his side and made this album a reality. 

This release also features Turntablist DJ Jahi Sundance who is the go-to for the Robert Glasper Trio/Experiment collective.

The twelve tracks flow seamlessly, and like a moth, I am drawn into the flickering light of jazz. At first, I bounced in and out of each track before finally settling into a groove. 

I sat composed as I waited for Voices. I hoped Scott would lead the intro for this track forging a foundation for the rest of the members to silently vamp into a layered, intimate and warm composition. This is an exemplar of contemporary jazz. Take a listen here 

Don Blue is a sophisticated tune with noteworthy horns and the ethereal vocals. I visualised John Ellis’s performance as if watching a butterfly move gracefully from one note to the next. There is a tight triplet timing running through this track as Mike Moreno plays in a stylish mode alongside the funky understated groove of the bass. This has to be the golden nugget embedded in this album. 

The Catalyst embodies an intelligent conversation between the instruments and with concrete phrasing. The enunciation of each note is bright. Ellis owns this track as he plays a difficult solo.  Yet I still feel he was holding back. 

Scott could have easily taken the big lead on this album, however, has made a conscious effort not to do so. Nemesis illustrates all that is technical in a collaborative performance. No artist outperforms the other. Each member plays an equal contribution to this solid, yet thought-provoking track.

Music is a risky business, and in a production of this scale, you need the big honchos to sure up the whole life-cycle process. This album is produced by experts and played with passion.

As Sonny Rollins once said "I am optimistic about jazz" and I have to concur. For me, this is 53 minutes of reflective joy.  

If you like this, check out The Blue Note All Stars. Listen here

 

Credits

Taylor Eigsti - Piano

Joe Sanders - Bass

Mike Moreno - Guitars

Kendrick Scott - Drums & vocals

John Ellis – Clarinet, Flute, Sax

Jahi Sundance -Turntablist

Derek Hodge - Producer, Composer, Featured artist & vocals

 

Label: Blue Note

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