Sunday, February 08, 2009

Gil Scott Heron Live In 1979

Wolfgang's Vault continue to drop killer concerts. Here's the latest from Gil Scott-Heron:

Gil Scott-Heron - vocals
Robert Gordon - bass
Tony Green - drums
Carl Cornwell - saxophone
Ed Brady - guitar

Activist musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron had considerable stature within the worlds of R&B and jazz by the time he played the Madison Square Garden stage in 1979, taking part in the famous series of “No Nukes” concerts organized by the Musicians United for Safe Energy. This concert took place the same day as the huge MUSE-organized rally at the Battery Park City landfill, which 200,000 people attended.

Scott-Heron’s musical career began in the late ’60s when Bob Thiele, famous jazz producer to the likes of Louis Armstrong and John Coltrane, urged the emerging poet and writer to give his poetry a musical form. With his first record, Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, he quickly emerged as a sharp, intelligent critic of contemporary culture, boasting terrific jazz-styled accompaniment. By the late ’70s, Scott-Heron’s sound had adopted a bit more of a contemporary R&B aesthetic, but his jazz roots remain clear on the opener “Johannesburg”, a call-and-response Top 30 hit (“What’s the word? Johannesburg!”) from 1976’s From South Africa to South Carolina. The second track, “South Carolina”, is especially relevant to the “No Nukes” event, as it concerns “the dangers of nuclear power,” particularly near the Savannah River in South Carolina

In his introduction to the lilting, reflective final track, “Winter in America” (the title track from his 1974 classic album), Scott-Heron encourages those assembled to rise above national feelings of “political paralysis” and look to each other for encouragement and achieving forward movement. He hasn’t released any new recorded material since 1994’s Spirits, and in the early ’00s, faced prison time for drug possession charges. He has since been released, and as of early 2009, he is working on a new record, and still makes occasional live appearances.
Wolfgang's Vault

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