Talented Jazz artist, Kendrick Scott has and is carving out an impressive career. Kendrick is not content being an insanely successful drummer, and composer, touring the world, and appearing on the soundtracks of at last count seven feature films; he is also a founder of his own record label ‘World Culture Music Record Company’ and has his own band, Oracle.
Kendrick took time out of his busy schedule to talk to Public Description about his recent album release, Conviction and what he is up to next.
Elle: You come from a musical background, and I believe started out drumming at the astonishingly early age of 6. Did you ever have any other career aspirations other than being a drummer? Or did you know even then that, that was the only career for you?
Kendrick: I’ve always felt I was blessed to know what I wanted to do at a young age. I was raised among musicians and never really had a doubt that making a living in the arts was feasible. I remember the first $50 check I got for playing. I couldn’t believe someone paid me to do what I loved to do. To this day I am forever grateful. The only other career aspiration was to play basketball, luckily I gave that up as a career but I still got at it as often as I can for exercise.
Elle: What was your first drum kit?
Kendrick: My first drum kit was a Pearl Export in Black Ebony with Sabian B8 cymbals. I still remember the smell of it that Christmas morning taking it out of the box. That wondrous bliss of being a child and discovering. Every time I play I try to get back to that exact moment. I played those drums till my ears were worn out and my parents only stopped me to sleep and eat. I’m so indebted to them for putting up with that noise and encouraging me to cultivate my talent.
Elle: You have had a long standing collaboration with Terence Blanchard throughout your career. What has it been like working so closely with such a legendary Jazz musician like Terance?
Kendrick: Working with Terence is truly like attending a University. You learn about the psychology of being a great band leader, pushing the musicians to their greatest potential and honouring their personal contributions. I’ve watched him as a working musician, as a teacher in learning how to teach others how to teach themselves. He’s influence how I compose in an instant setting on my instrument and in the delayed setting on writing music. Moreover he’s been a great friend and mentor. It’s been an endless learning experience for me. And it continues nightly on and off stage.
Elle: What makes a player a “legend” or “great” in your opinion?
Kendrick: To me that always has to do with a persons spirit and their body of work. They know not only how to translate their heart through their instrument but they themselves become the instrument. And throughout their body of work you can be carried along on that journey that their art invited you to and relate to it; in it’s struggles and triumphs. They bring truth to the materials they are presented.
Elle: You released your album called Conviction this year which is a beautiful album, and also quite spiritual was that always your intention to make a spiritual album, or like art often does, did it just naturally develop that way?
Kendrick: That’s the way I am and I honestly wanted to be vulnerable about my life. Everyday I have to ask myself, not only what I believe in, but are you living the convictions you believe in? Creating that work was and is a constant reminder for me to honestly answer that question. Taking that look in the mirror and not turning away. I wanted the listener to also meditate on that; whatever, their convictions might be.
Elle: You have your own label, what was the reason behind creating this?
Kendrick: I originally created my label as an outlet for a group of musicians. The music industry is so different now and I felt we should support each other instead of looking to be supported. So it started as a real grass roots effort. That sense of community drives me. Through that and the music itself I was honoured to partner my label World Culture Music with Concord/ Universal to release Conviction. So that model has worked well for me.
Elle: Given drumming is physically demanding what do you do to maintain stamina and strength?
Kendrick: Basketball helps me with timing, hand eye coordination, believing in my abilities and the conviction to accept who I am but to push myself further. The mental grind is just as demanding so meditation helps too.
Elle: With 2013 almost drawing to a close, what can we expect to see from you for 2014?
Kendrick: I just recorded with one of my best childhood friends, saxophonist Walter Smith III, he will be releasing his Major Label debut, also on Concord in 2014. It’s going to be a great record. There are shows lining up with, Walter, Terence Blanchard, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Luciana Souza, Kurt Elling and of course my band Oracle. I’m truly excited about the possibilities.