Kentyah Presents: M1, Brian Jackson & The New Midnight Band
Evolutionary Minded: Furthering The Legacy of Gil Scott-Heron
Motéma ***1/2
Who other than Brian Jackson could be present at the heart of this highly credible conscious jazz rap tribute? Jackson's 1970s work with Gil Scott-Heron is pivotal in the reach and ambition of the late poet/singer’s work, particularly 1974’s seminal Winter in America. Put together by Kentyah Fraser, Jackson’s soulful Rhodes-drenched contours and evocative flute flavours merge with the contributions of a vital cast of singers and rappers guesting, including Dead Prez, Chuck D, Martin Luther, and Gregory Porter, with Headhunters’ Mike Clark and Bill Summers and members of the late Scott-Heron’s Amnesia Express and Midnight Band also taking part. Highlights include the hard hitting ‘Liberation Psychology’ featuring the Black Panthers co-founder Bobby Seale, and M1. Sometimes episodic, very soulful, and on one or two tracks especially the prison critique ‘Opponent’ militant, Martin Luther makes a big impression on ‘Winter in America’ with its great loping and achingly loose head bobbing swung beat. Galactic’s Stanton Moore does sterling work within a strong rhythm section. Spoken word, social commentary on the fast talking anti-police polemic ‘Go Ahead On Bobby’ and heavy politics all have their place here on a record that deserves to be widely heard and played on the radio. “Sort of a current affairs class with a beat,” Brian Jackson has said about the project. Gregory Porter is best on ‘Song of the Wind’ from the 1977 Arista album Bridges with shimmering percussion from Airto, a lush cleansing, the line “you alone have been to Africa…” just beautifully rendered. It's Porter’s second significant guest slot this year following his showing on David Murray’s Be My Monster Love []. So overall an important reminder of Scott-Heron’s work in a new setting, the message as relevant as ever. SG
Released on 9 September