Sunday, June 19, 2011

Gil Scott Heron 1949 - 2011

I'm back here with a much needed homage to the great Gil Scott Heron.  Born in Chicago and raised in the Bronx, this American soul and jazz poet, musician, and author was known primarily for his work as a spoken word performer in the '70s and '80s, and for his collaborative works with musician Brian Jackson.  His collaborative efforts with Jackson featured a musical fusion of jazz, blues, and soul, as well as lyrical content concerning social and political issues of the time, delivered in both rapping and melismatic vocal styles by Schott-Heron.  His own term for himself was "bluesologist", which he defined as "a scientist who is concerned with the origin of blues.  The music of these albums, most notably Pieces of a Man and Winter in America in the early '70s, influenced and helped engender later African-American music genres such a hip hop and neo soul.  His recording work has received much critical acclaim, especially for one of his most well known compositions "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". His poetic style has been influential upon every generation of hip hop since his popularity began.  In addition to being widely considered an influence in today's music, Scott Heron remained active until his death, and in 2010 released his first new album in 16 years, a collaboration with Jamie XX, entitled I'm New Here.  It is difficult to choose the right songs where there are so many that would do justice to the amazing depth, power and musical range from this beautiful soul.  I'll start with a dance classic "The Bottle" from his masterpiece LP Winter In America.  "The Bottle" still sounds relevant on any dance floor today and I can safely say that this was probably a sort of  blue print for most of the house music from the late '80s and here it is:

The Bottle - Gil Scott Heron & Brian Jackson

Then listen to the urgent and poignantly brilliant in your face:

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised - Gil Scott Heron

The brilliant:

Rivers of my Fathers - Gil Scott Heron

and last but not least the brilliant "housified" re-work of "I'll Take Care Of You" from his 2011 release titled I'm New Here which takes back us full circle to the dance floor:

I'll Take Care Of You - Gil Scott Heron & Jamie XX

Amazing work! RIP and long live Gil Scott Heron

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