Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Artist Review: Gil Scott-Heron.

A musical hero of mine while growing up in 70`s London. His music resonated so much with me, right at the time i myself was becoming politicised. His brand of African American militant poetry sat prefectly with the UK in the throes of racial unrest. Best known for his poem and song "The Revolution will not be Televised"; and for writing "Home is Where The Hatred Is" an eerie account of drug use that was a hit for R&B singer Esther Phillips in 1972 and would later on in his life cause himself so many problems.

I had the great pleasure to meet the brilliantly gifted man at the Jazz Cafe in Camden Town in the mid 9o`s, where he performed without his long time partner Brian Jackson. I had gone there on my own and ascended to the top bar overlooking the stage from the right side. The show was outstanding as was to be expected, after he came up to the bar which is close to the artists dressing rooms and had a drink with the punters assembled....A great memory. The very first album i bought was "Bridges" in 1977 from Groove records and it is still my favorite LP.

In 1979, Scott-Heron played at the No Nukes concerts at New York`s Madison Sq Garden. The concerts were organized by Musicians United For Safe Energy to protest the use of Nuclear Energy following the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. (It was the most significant accident in the history of the American commercial nuclear power generating industry). Scott-Heron's song "We Almost Lost Detroit", written about a previous accident at a nuclear facility, was included on the No Nukes album.

Scott-Heron is known in many circles as "the godfather of rap" and is widely considered to be one of the genre's founding fathers. Given the political consciousness that lies at the foundation of his work. Gil played with some outstanding musicians in his time, Eddie Knowles and Charlie Saunders on conga and David Barnes on percussion on the 1970 LP "Small Talk at 125th & Lenox"
On the 1971 LP "Pieces of a Man" He was joined by Johnny Pate (conductor), Brian Jackson (piano and electric piano), Ron Carter (bass and electric bass), The great drummer, Bernand "Pretty" Pudie, Burt Jones (electric guitar), and Hubert Laws (flute and saxophone). Scott-Heron's third album "Free Will", was released in 1972 with Jackson, Purdie, Laws, Knowles, and Saunders all returning to play and were joined byJerry Jemmott (bass) and David Spinozza (guitar),Horace Ott (arranger and conductor). In 1974 saw another LP collaboration with Brian Jackson, the critically acclaimed "Winter in America", with Bob Adams (drums) and Danny Bowens (bass).
Scott-Heron and Jackson also released together "The First Minute of a New Day" in `75, "Its your World" in `76, "Bridges" in `77, "Secrets" in 1978, "1980" in the same year as well as "Real Eyes", "Reflections" in `81 and "Moving Target" in `82.

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