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Kendrick Scott Oracle: A Wall Becomes a Bridge (Blue Note)

A review of the fourth album from the drummer's quintet

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A Wall Becomes a Bridge by Kendrick Scott Oracle
The cover of A Wall Becomes a Bridge by Kendrick Scott Oracle.

Culturally aware, historically inclusive, produced by Derrick Hodge with some startling sonic effects, swinging madly and beautifully arranged, A Wall Becomes a Bridge once again confirms Kendrick Scott as one of the finest drummers of his generation, as well as a thoughtful composer with deep reserves and compelling ideas.

Three years ago I was lucky to catch Scott’s live response to the murder of Philando Castile in his bold, moving solo piece, “Philando.” Composed and performed using Sunhouse Sensory Percussion, it showcased Scott’s ability to turn tragedy into concise vistas of sound. A Wall Becomes a Bridge finds him digging deeper and coming up with what is essentially a 12-song cycle covering black history, racism, black music, and contemporary sociopolitics in an uplifting way that both reveres the past and presses into the future. Scott is joined by his longtime Oracle quintet of guitarist Mike Moreno, pianist Taylor Eigsti, reedist John Ellis, and bassist Joe Sanders (with the addition of turntablist Jahi Sundance).

This album is blessed with the spirit of the dance. Every song glides, pulsates, and glows—from Scott’s graceful drumming to the Bennie Maupin-worthy textures of Ellis. Oracle simmers where many would bash, focuses on a single flame where others would fan a firestorm. It’s an album of lovely moments, rewarding (and enabling) focused attention,  drawing the listener in with its tranquil state. Surely to be ranked among 2019’s best jazz recordings, A Wall Becomes a Bridge spreads a serene and powerful spell.

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Originally Published