The sad news was announced today of Gil Scott-Heron, the famed and grizzled jazz-poet, after a short illness. He was a hugely influential musician, with everyone from Public Enemy to Kanye West via Usher singing his praises over the years. His magnificent voice, whether singing on “The Bottle” or darkly intoning his rage on “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, grabbed you by the balls and forced you to listen. After what could be termed hard times, with cocaine addiction and prison, in recent years he’d found his way back to something approaching normal life, recording “I’m New Here”, a widely acclaimed return to form. It even featured a cover of a Bill Callahan song, of all people.
This was even followed up with a remix album by Jamie XX, of all people.
He’ll be sadly missed. Anyone who can make jazz flute sound superb has more talent than you or I can even begin to imagine. He had a stunning way with words, and an even more stunning way of making you hear them.