One happy thing to be grateful for during otherwise trying times is finally getting to hear and enjoy new work by a man whose music is familiar to millions even if his name is less so. Indeed, Gil Scott-Heron continues to cast such a wide shadow that even many of his biggest fans often seem to forget that there’s another name next to his on the bulk of his albums, the name of a man teamed up with Gil as a teenager and proceeded to ride out the decade as his writing partner, keyboardist, arranger, and bandleader for their Midnight Band. That man’s name is Brian Jackson.
His considerable backlog of unheard material reveals a still energetic and still-vital icon of the music wing of the Black Liberation movement. Prepare to hear from a musician whose work has contributed to the enhancement of all our lives in some form or another with the latest instalment of the Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge’s Jazz Is Dead series.
“Brian Jackson is the first album we recorded for Jazz Is Dead. He set the tone for the entire label,” reflects Younge. “He turned our aspirations global. We never knew what this could all be, but with his inspirational character and musicianship, he led us on the right path. We are forever indebted to this icon.”
Brian Jackson JID008, released August 6, is the first full album released by the great man in 20 years (with the exception of Evolutionary Minded, an homage to Gil released eight years ago) and it’s a testament to his multifaceted talents that while there are moments throughout that hint at his game-changing history and track record, for the most part it reveals a musician who pulls from lessons garnered over a 50+ year career only to keep his eyes firmly fixed on the future. “When we got together, the sounds flowed effortlessly,” recalls Jackson.
A1/01. Under The Bridge
A2/02. Mars Walk
A3/03. Young Muhammad
A4/04. Nancy Wilson
B1/06. Baba Ibeji
B3/08. Bain de Minuit
B4/09. Ethiopian Sunshower