Three words: Gil-Scott Heron. Poet, pianist, jazz and blues singer, songwriter and the â€œGodfather of Rapâ€ â€“ heâ€™s an inspiration to a host of rappers, singers and wordsmiths. Despite a delay of nearly two hours, Scott-Heron was still able to bring a crowd of nationalities together over the King holiday weekend at SOBâ€™s. However, to soothe the nerves of a packed house, a pre-show soundtrack of 70â€™s soul and funk, and 80â€™s R&B from legends such as Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Teddy Pendergrass, Zapp & Roger seemed a perfect fit.
Stepping to the stage at 8:45, Scott-Heron apologized for his lateness, blaming it on traffic and the weather, and without missing a beat – told anyone who may have betted on his not showing up, to basically suck it!
Performing tracks from his most popular albums, Pieces of a Man (1971) and Winter in America (1973), the musician blended politically-infused talks along with the importance of celebrating Dr. Kingâ€™s holiday as well as humor, quick wit, and of course, the wisdom and knowledge that six decades bring, to transport us all to the world of Gil Scott-Heron. Motivator. Historian. Preacher.
Motivator: â€œHold on to Your Dreamsâ€ – if you have a dream, itâ€™s one of your most precious possessions.
Historian: Tells of the night, in great detail, of the concert performance/speech Stevie Wonder made the day John Lennon was murdered, December 8, 1980.
Preacher: Jazz music is dance music. Itâ€™s not for sitting on your ass, itâ€™s for dancing. (Hey, weâ€™re in Gilâ€™s world!)
Segueing into â€œIs That Jazz?â€ and giving keyboardist Kim Joy a luscious solo, Scott-Heron stepped off the stage just as coolly as he came on, to allow her to kill it. Nevertheless, before closing with the celebratory â€œThe Bottle,â€ he reminds us that not everything could be performed. After all, there are 20 albums, two novels and three books of poetry to dig through. No sooner, someone yells out a song request, and Gil shoots back, â€œYeah, you go home and play that one, and weâ€™ll play the one weâ€™ve been practicing.â€ Gil Scott-Heronâ€™s newest album Iâ€™m New Here (in stores February 9th) is his first since his 1994 LP, Spirit.