Kendrick Scott has premiered a special work called Unearthed to mark Juneteenth.

In the video, presented by the arts organization DACAMERA between June 16 and 23, Scott, the renowned drummer and composer, is joined by an all-star jazz group featuring pianist Gerald Clayton, saxophonist Walter Smith III, and bassist Joe Sanders, along with the Harlem Quartet string ensemble and spoken-word artist Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton.

Through Scott’s original music, Unearthed tells the story of the Sugar Land 95, a group of African-American convicts who were conscripted into backbreaking unpaid labour before being buried in an unmarked grave southwest of Houston between 1878 and 1911.

Together, the musicians bring the story to life, from the Emancipation Proclamation to the recent rediscovery of the burial ground. Their performances were greeted by a prolonged standing ovation from the audience at the Wortham Theater Center in Houston on May 12.

Scott, one of the leading drummers in contemporary jazz, has appeared and recorded with Terence Blanchard, Pat Metheny, Joe Lovano, Kenny Garrett, Dianne Reeves, Charles Lloyd, and many other top artists. Scott released his latest album Corridors in early 2023. Each of Scott’s bandmates in Unearthed — his frequent collaborators Clayton, Smith, and Sanders — is a highly respected composer and bandleader in his own right.

Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. It’s celebrated annually on June 19.

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