February 21, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Drummer Kendrick Scott, a recipient of the 2008 ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award, performs music from his debut release, The Source.
Hear the WBGO studio session on NPR Music.
Oracle. What an intriguing name for a jazz ensemble, one that conjures prophesy, divination, mythological seers and soothsayers. It's also reminiscent of Kendrick's inspiration, another drummer-led group. "Before you even heard the music, the name itself caught you. Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. You're going to receive a message. It's almost like going to church."
Kendrick Scott brought his group, Oracle, to the WBGO studio to play music from his self-released debut, The Source. The quintet plays three Scott originals, including "Memory's Wavering Echo," words borrowed directly from Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet.
Every language has a poet. Consider the language of jazz, which happens to have many. New composers in jazz function like emerging wordsmiths. They inject the narrative of humanity with a fresh shot of adrenaline, and they reinvent the basic vocabulary of a cultural tradition. Kendrick Scott is a new voice in jazz. He is a drummer, a composer, and a 2008 recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award.
Kendrick Scott's music does not lay so easily in the beat, as one might expect from a drummer. "Whenever I'm composing, I'm actually singing melodies. I'll call my voicemail and sing a melody into the voicemail. Then when I get home, I sit down at the Fender Rhodes or at the piano and I'll try to harmonize it. And then I'll come up with some rhythms. Melody is first, harmony is second, and rhythm is actually third."
The results are often sprawling, cinematic compositions like the twofer, "Retrospect/View From Above." It's worth the wait, seven minutes into the medley, to hear guitarist Mike Moreno and pianist Fabian Almazan in cascading harmony. This kind of heightened interaction and listening is the result of directing live action in the moment.
Scott learned some valuable lessons when he recorded his debut release, The Source, on his own label, World Culture Music. He labored over every minute detail, until his mentor, Terence Blanchard, offered some advice about making records. "It's just a snapshot of who you are at this moment. This record doesn't define your whole life. And hopefully after this moment, you'll have more and more records to document that."
Our session with Oracle ends with "The Source," featuring an introduction from bassist Derrick Hodge, Kendrick Scott's bandmate in the Terence Blanchard Sextet.
Mysticism aside, it takes more than a drummer and composer to give Oracle its power. Scott says, "The band itself is the oracle, not just me. They send out the messages, and it's free for whoever is listening to interpret however they feel the music should be. You go to the oracle not to get the answer, but to find out what the question is. So you can get to the answer.
Check it out.
© 2008 WBGO
February 6, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.
If you checked out the list of my Top 10 favorite albums of 2007, you remember that Mike Moreno was among them. For those of you who are not familiar, here's your chance to check out this fabulous guitarist. The synergy and fire that this band brings is reminiscent and fresh at the same time, as is Moreno's brilliant playing. Saxophonist John Ellis' tone is one of the sweetest I've ever heard, and Moreno's tunes are classics in the making. Don't be surprised if you see them popping up in various musician's repertoires in the near future. Kendrick Scott's lyricism and dynamics on the drums are awe-inspiring, as usual.
© 2008 WBGO
January 28, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Pianist Ryan Cohan brought his quartet into our studio, just before they hit the road. The band is part of The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad, the US Department of State-sponsored tour of young jazz and urban music ensembles. Starting January 30th, The Ryan Cohan Quartet is spending a week in each of the following places - Rwanda, Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Jordan.
We recorded two songs with the quartet. Then we finished the session with solo piano. Check it out below:
© 2008 WBGO
January 17, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
We had a really killer performance and chat session with saxophonist Marcus Strickland and the Twi-Life Band. You can find the whole session, or individual songs, on the NPR Music site. Click here.
Make it a point to check out what some of the baddest young talent in jazz are doing. Not just online, but in the clubs. We have a ton of these sessions on the shelf, so expect more in the coming months. Guitarist Mike Moreno is next.
© 2008 WBGO
January 16, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Bassist Alexis Cuadrado is one of ten bandleaders in the Brooklyn Jazz Underground (BJU), a music cooperative formed in January 2007. In a couple of months, the BJU will launch its own record label. One of the first releases is a quintet record from Cuadrado called Puzzles. Alexis brought his Puzzles Quartet into our studio yesterday. We'll bring you the full session when the record is released to the public. In the meantime, enjoy this video we made:
The Alexis Cuadrado Puzzles Quartet is performing at Smalls, Saturday night at 8pm. It's part of the 2nd Annual Brooklyn Jazz Underground Festival, a three night music feast starting tomorrow night at Smalls, 183 West 10th Street (7th Avenue South).
More about that in another post.
- Josh Jackson
© 2008 WBGO