Drummer and composer Kendrick Scott Oracle kicked off his Blue Note contract four years ago with We Are The Drum. Expertly produced by Derrick Hodge, Oracle’s creative confidant and musical brother, and featuring a stunning guest performance by vocalist, Lizz Wright, it earned rave reviews and reiterated how Oracle, his long-running working group, is one of the most thoughtfully powerful jazz bands of its generation.
Throughout his time at the helm of his own group, Oracle has employed the lessons he’s learned as a sideman working with jazz’s great bandleaders. Like Blanchard, Oracle encourages his players to exercise their personalities and to contribute music. He has also performed regularly as part of Charles Lloyd’s band, and has adapted the tenor legends’s sense of trust and intuition to define Oracle. “The main thing I learned from Charles is that everybody needs to take ownership,” he says. “I feel like what makes Oracle Oracle is that each member has ownership of the band. They have ownership of the music and ownership of the intent.”
As far back as he can recall, Oracle, who was born in Houston in 1980, has imbued his music with deeper meaning. “Coming up in church,” he says, “You played music for a message; you played music for a purpose. Oracle lives in that space, no matter what we’re playing.” Like his fellow Houston drum-greats, Harland and Jamire Williams, he grew up with a mother who was an acclaimed gospel choir director. On top of that bedrock, he developed his technique through private mentorship and public jazz education, spurred on by an environment of fierce but brotherly competition. He moved to New York in 2003 and raised his profile performing and recording for Blue Note in trumpeter Terence Blanchard’s band, alongside future Blue Note Artists Hodge, pianist Aaron Parks, and guitarist Lionel Loueke.
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