Recording of the Week,
Kendrick Scott, 'Corridors'
After the best part of three decades in jazz, Houston-hailing drummer and composer Kendrick Scott’s latest album Corridors marks his first time composing in a trio context. Scott managed to hit the ground running with his music career following his studies at the Berklee College of Music, becoming a well-travelled sideman with credits including Pat Metheny, Joe Lovano, Charles Lloyd and Kenny Garrett. Scott has also been writing and recording his own original music since the mid-2000s, with his 2007 debut The Source featuring a who’s-who of contemporary jazzers including Gretchen Parlato, Robert Glasper and Lionel Loueke – a well-connected man for sure.
While Corridors is billed as a follow-up to the drummer’s 2019 album A Wall Becomes a Bridge, Scott’s band is considerably more stripped-back this time around; eschewing his six-piece Oracle band, the drummer employs a chord-less trio with bassist Reuben Rogers (his fellow Charles Lloyd Quartet bandmate) and saxophonist Walter Smith III (who has played with Scott since that aforementioned 2007 debut). This might sound like a bit of a sparse palette, but you’ll soon forget the absence of a keyboard instrument with the way Rogers and Smith play off each other to infer harmony; even in Smith’s solos he has a certain knack for outlining more colourful tones all across the record.
Commissioned by Rio Sakairi for The Jazz Gallery’s 2020 Artist Fellowship Series, the music on Corridors is informed by lockdown-induced isolation – something plenty of artists have explored – but particularly Scott’s fixation on the long corridors of his apartment building, ideas of transition, loss and intimacy. Every tune on Corridors is original and drawing from Scott’s funk-leaning tendencies, save for the rearrangement of Bobby Hutcherson’s ‘Isn’t This My Sound Around Me?’, which acts as a nice mid-album pace breaker and illustrates some of the trio’s more old-school chops. That funk influence is on full display with the opener ‘What Day Is It?’; Scott locks in with Rogers for a heavily swung and laid-back beat, while the proceeding title track finds the bassist opting for a more subtle approach with its opening solo passage.
Scott also adds his own wordless vocals to the mix, like on the moody slow-burner ‘A Voice Through the Door’ where it’s used as a drone against Smith’s saxophone, or on ‘One Door Closes, Another Opens’ where he duets and harmonises with Smith’s saxophone lines; Scott anchors his two bandmates not just rhythmically, but tonally on two of the more sombre tunes on the album – the latter having been written in tribute to those lost to the pandemic as well as those born during its course.
The trio manage to maintain a careful touch even on the more energetic takes on the record, with things ramping up to a more frantic end on the final track ‘Threshold’, Smith’s saxophone leading the charge between brief beat switch-ups. Corridors is more than just another solemn pandemic diary album, with plenty of enjoyable moments of cool interplay between the trio that challenge the sound of a small jazz combo, as well as providing an interesting dichotomy between restless energy and quiet contemplation, not unlike the year of 2020.
Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC