600

Mos Def and Gil Scott-Heron at Carnegie Hall, JVC Jazz Festival

By

Sign in to view read count
It was fitting that Mos Def, one of hip hop's most recognized, and Gil Scott Heron, considered a 'Godfather' of rap and spoken word poetry (most famous for his 1970's poem 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised'), joined for this occasion.
Mos Def and The Amino Alkaline Orchestra with Gil Scott-Heron
Carnegie Hall/JVC Jazz Festival 2008
New York, New York
Saturday, June 28, 2008


On Saturday, June 28, 2008 the JVC Jazz Festival brought Brooklyn's own renaissance man, Dante Smith, a.k.a. Mos Def, to town with his big band Amino Alkaline Orchestra, featuring special guest Gil Scott-Heron. Mos Def's Amino Akaline-The Watermelon Syndicate rocked the dome of Carnegie Hall for a diverse audience of what seemed like thousands. The show opened with the featured performer's twenty-three piece band walking onto the stage with the image of the late, legendary radio man, talk show host, and activist, Petey Greene, shown overhead on a large screen above the stage, eating watermelon. Petey Greene urged the audience to eat and enjoy; perhaps a metaphor for the evening to come.

Once his band was in place, Mos Def seemed to glide smoothly on the stage, to the roar of shouts and applause. The young rapper, poet and thespian wore a white sailor cap, a long white t-shirt and multi- colored shorts that nearly came to his ankles. The ever unpredictable and charming rapper, greeted the crowd and jokingly said to an audience member in the front row, "What? You don't like my shorts?" The crowd laughed. The band started up with classic jazz, bebop and blues sounds, as he sipped water and prepared to deliver his rhymes. The twenty-three piece ensemble included an impressive horn section, keyboards, guitar, drums, and an all-female string section, which Def pointed out as comprising "very beautiful and talented women."

At a time when critics and artists alike have questioned whether hip hop is dead, one of the genre's own manages to bridge hip hop, jazz and blues in a most elegant way, while keeping it real. Mos Def announced at the beginning of the show, "We put this band together because we love music. It's something we wanted to see going on that wasn't." When Mos started singing the early '90's R&B song "Poison" by Bell , Biv and Devoe, the crowd went wild. The audience bobbed their heads and sang along when Mos covered the Pharcyde's "Passing Me By" and Stevie Wonder's "That Girl." He showed the masterful emcee skills that he is known for when he rhymed lines in succession, from several classic hip hop songs by artists such KRS-1 and Eric B. & Rakim. Amino Alkaline meanwhile gave concert go-ers of all ages something to enjoy as the band covered tunes from Busta Rhymes' "Gimme Some More" to Mongo Santamaria's "Afro-Blue." Along with Def they also paid tribute to James Brown and Fela. Def himself appeared to be in musical heaven as he scatted and sang the lyrics to Fela's "No Agreement" while praising Barack Obama's goal to become the first African- American President. A refreshing moment in the show was the rapper's duet with Renee Neufville (formerly of Zhané) on the Eurythmics' song "Sweet Dreams."

You could feel the love and energy in the air as several audience members throughout the concert called to Mos Def, saying, "I love you!" and "We love you!" Halfway through Mos' performance, an audience member shouted, "Do 'Umi Says'!" Def paused, faced the audience, and replied humorously, "Thank you for your interest, but not now. See we got this thing called a set list and rehearsals. For your sake and ours." The audience laughed once again.

At one point Def gave shout outs to "New Orleans" and "Wayne Carter" for Carter's newly released album, which has recently sold one million copies. In between songs, Def told stories and shared his artistic vision with the audience, "I'm from Brooklyn, New York. Starting a band is an excuse to have a gang. If you gon' bang, bang for freedom," he said. And then he held his red, black and green flag high above his head. After this introduction, he delivered a rap acapella, written by Jay Electronica, an artist he admires who is from New Orleans.


Shop

More Articles

Read SFJAZZ Collective at the Music Box Supper Club Live Reviews SFJAZZ Collective at the Music Box Supper Club
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Anat Cohen at Davidson College Live Reviews Anat Cohen at Davidson College
by Perry Tannenbaum
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Mark Hagan's Jazz Salon At The Old 76 House Live Reviews Mark Hagan's Jazz Salon At The Old 76 House
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's Live Reviews Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's
by Mike Jacobs
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Vossajazz 2017 Live Reviews Vossajazz 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ Live Reviews Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "Suoni Per Il Popolo 2016" Live Reviews Suoni Per Il Popolo 2016
by Mike Chamberlain
Published: July 1, 2016
Read "Sarajevo Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Sarajevo Jazz Festival 2016
by Francesco Martinelli
Published: November 18, 2016
Read "String Theory 2016" Live Reviews String Theory 2016
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 30, 2016
Read "Ian Shaw With The Phil Ware Trio at The Workmans Club" Live Reviews Ian Shaw With The Phil Ware Trio at The Workmans Club
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "The Julian Lage Trio at Signal Kitchen" Live Reviews The Julian Lage Trio at Signal Kitchen
by Doug Collette
Published: May 16, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!