Last year at this time at the Festival, you might have walked by the Garden Stage late one night to hear vocalist Jose James singing Gil Scott-Heron‘s “Winter in America.” Imagine your surprise to hear the same tune emanating from the same stage this year.
You know that the massively influential soul-jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011) made a lot of great records. Less known is the importance of pianist and arranger Brian Jackson in creating the distinctive sound of those great records. It was Jackson’s Fender Rhodes that drove the deep groove of “The Bottle.” Jackson and Scott-Heron together recorded Pieces of a Man (1973) and Winter in America (1974).
Jackson brought the New Midnight Band to the Garden Stage to reprise several of the best-known songs he and the late Scott-Heron recorded together. These gently updated versions demonstrated the enduring relevance of these classics for all in attendance.