The expansive third album from Kendrick Scott Oracle, 2015's We Are the Drum, further reveals the drummer's multi-layered jazz vision. It's a vision that Scott debuted on the group's lauded 2006 album Source, and expanded upon with 2013's Conviction. As with that album, We Are the Drum is filled with forward-thinking original compositions by Scott and his bandmates. Featured here is the same group from Conviction, with pianist Taylor Eigsti, guitarist Michael Moreno, saxophonist John Ellis, and bassist Joe Sanders. Together, they produce a ruminative, often languid style of jazz that favors soft, harmonically supple introspection over explosive firepower. That said, while much of We Are the Drum is tender and ambient, there are moments of intensity, and cuts like the sweeping, modal "Milton" and the bouncy, swinging "Synchrony," skip along with a cerebral urgency that brings to mind the latter-career recordings of Wayne Shorter. Part of what makes Scott's albums stand out from other progressive jazz works is his balance of exploratory instrumentalism and lyrical melody. Adding to the melodicism of We Are the Drum is vocalist Lizz Wright, who lends her folky, nuanced soulfulness to the psychedelic, R&B-infused "This Song in Me." In fact, melody, poetry, and a song's overall impact on a listener are clearly paramount to Scott. Despite his immense ability as a drummer (skills evident throughout We Are the Drum), you never get the sense that he wants his albums to be just a showcase for his drumming. On the contrary, while cuts like the quietly impassioned "Mantra" and "Never Catch Me" begin with kinetic, polyrhythmic drum solo intros, the overall impression on We Are the Drum is of the Kendrick Scott Oracle as a band of unified musicians.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar