Dred Scott, Rides Alone

by Sylvannia Garutch

Its not often you hear an album performed completely by one musician.  In the hands of veteran pianist Dred Scott, the possibilities are endless. On his latest endeavor Dred Scott Rides Alone, Scott takes on the role of piano, bass, drums, shaker, keyboard and composer on seven tunes, with the eighth “Remember PN,” penned by Eric Crystal. Scott now resides in New York, but the album was recorded in rural northern California. The songs were written during an artist residency at the UCross Foundation in Wyoming. The tunes are accessible and offer a shimmering brilliance that illuminates the aural senses.

“Wonder” offers an active arpeggio figure in the piano that is soon joined by drums and an upper register bass melody. Scott’s ability on the three instruments is instantly recognizable, you find yourself instantly being caught up in the music, and one can easily forget the skill and musicality it took to pull-off such a musical feat of playing all the instruments. Scott’s tone on the electric bass is rich, both as a melody instrument and a supporting one. The straight eight feel adds to the excitement and uniqueness of the composition. The different feels and tension and release is notable. Scott has a special gift for creating musical textures that evolve and tell a story.

Things turn funky on “Wild Turkeys.” Here, Scott’s piano playing is full of energy and passion. The bass line presents a blues-based selection with a style that allows Scott to dig into his piano playing. His sense of the blues vernacular combined with interesting harmonic movement is inspired. The conversation between each part is interactive and truly does sounds like a trio playing together, one would never know its Scott interacting in an overdub setting. Scott obviously is hearing all of these parts simultaneously regardless of the instrument he is performing on at the moment. Scott’s lines bounce with joy as he spins his multi-layered piano parts over the solid groove. This track finds him letting loose and digging into his roots.

Dred Scott Rides Alone speaks to the versatility of Scott as a player, but more than that.  It also speaks to how he hears parts in layers as a composer.  His ability to convey those ideas in a recorded format speaks to the depth of how he imagines music on a larger scale.  Dred is well known as an adept pianist, with Rides Alone we are introduced to a fully-fledged composer and player that stands alone with his sublime depth in articulating both.

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