Thanks very much to Rob for the guest posts, and for bringing some new bands into the discussion here. Today's Sunday Music goes out to the late Gil Scott-Heron, who as far back as 1975 was singling out my state for its embrace of nuclear power. Here's a good guide to Scott-Heron's recordings. Scott-Heron previously appeared on Mostly Movies here. (Chicago Tribune)
The best of his music occurred in a rush of creativity through the ‘70s as he emerged from his teen years, already a published author and a serious student of blues, jazz, Langston Hughes and LeRoi Jones. He stumbled into the business of making records because a respected elder, veteran jazz producer Bob Thiele, encouraged him. He had a lot to say, producing an album a year for a decade-plus while touring relentlessly with the band he built with his college friend, keyboardist Brian Jackson.
Though Scott-Heron is often typecast as a rap progenitor – a label he steadfastly rejected -- he more accurately suggested a mix of Richard Pryor’s darkly comical oratory, beat poetry and blues-inflected ballad-singing. Musicians more steeped in jazz than funk accompanied him, and the music embodied many of the values of ‘70s jazz fusion, for better or worse. There were elastic time signatures and flowing keyboard melodies, but there were also plenty of meandering flute solos. Even amid the pastel arrangements, Scott-Heron’s rich, mahogany voice commanded attention.