Gil Scott-Heron @ SOB’s 1/17/2010


Three words: Gil-Scott Heron. Poet, pianist, jazz and blues singer, songwriter and the “Godfather of Rap” – he’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 SOB’s. However, to soothe the nerves of a packed house, a pre-show soundtrack of 70’s soul and funk, and 80’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. King’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: “Hold on to Your Dreams” – if you have a dream, it’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. It’s not for sitting on your ass, it’s for dancing. (Hey, we’re in Gil’s world!)

Segueing into “Is That Jazz?” 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 “The Bottle,” 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, “Yeah, you go home and play that one, and we’ll play the one we’ve been practicing.” Gil Scott-Heron’s newest album I’m New Here (in stores February 9th) is his first since his 1994 LP, Spirit.

ND McCray

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