Kentyah presents: M1, Brian Jackson & The New Midnight Band
Kentyah presents: M1, Brian Jackson and The New Midnight Band: A contemporary revisioning of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson
Soul-satisfying grooves swirl together with socio-political visions on Evolutionary Minded, a traveling chautauqua of hip-hop, jazz and funk A-listers. This project, from Kentyah and original Midnight Band keyboardist and composer Brian Jackson, brilliantly builds upon and expands the legacy of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson, the forefathers of socially-conscious rap.
Widely regarded as one of the early architects of the neo-soul era, Brian Jackson's enduring sound is capturing the hearts and souls of yet another generation. Today, Brian is not only a respected jazz artist but also a frequent collaborator with emerging artists who carry on the tradition of inspiring and informing the masses through conscious music.
The tradition started in 1970 when the Brooklyn-born producer, composer, and musician Jackson began writing songs with another prodigy, 20-year-old Lincoln University classmate and poet Gil Scott- Heron. Jackson remembers his first encounter with Gil, "He had this way with words and I thought to myself, 'People have to hear this stuff.' What I had to offer was the music and I figured if we can take his words and make this tribal knowledge rhythmic and musical, we can draw people to hear it."
Their partnership produced some of the most fiercely poignant, politically charged, and significantly soulful albums of the seventies. Pieces of a Man, Free Will, Winter in America, First Minute of a New Day, From South Africa to South Carolina, Bridges, Secrets and 1980 are coveted by collectors and conscious-minded music fans alike. Tracks like “The Bottle,” “Johannesburg,” “It's Your World,” “Angel Dust,” “Willing,” and “95 South (All the Places We've Been),” while highly relevant back-in-the-day, have taken on heightened new relevance today by serving as an inspirational and musical Rosetta stone for the neo-soul movement.
Having produced ten top-selling albums with Gil, Brian decided to continue evolving his musical talents in the eighties by collaborating with Kool and the Gang, Phyllis Hyman, George Benson, Gwen Guthrie, and Roy Ayers. In 1988, Brian co-produced Will Downing's self-titled and UK gold-selling debut album.
Brian welcomed the turning of a century with his long overdue first solo album, Gotta Play. "No one could have told me when I was recording my first album, Pieces of a Man (with Gil Scott-Heron), that it would be the 21st century before I recorded a solo album. But this collection of music represents my offerings of new friendship, fresh perspective, and a new life."
With his rekindled spirit to continue the tradition and reach a new generation, Jackson, for his next album, is collaborating with new voices and translating their lyrical visions into powerful neo-soul musical statements. For his next new-day-making-change album, Jackson is soulfully aligning, along with visionary producer Kentyah Fraser, with master craftspersons like M1 and stic.man (Dead Prez), Boots Riley (The Coup), Ron Carter and Airto Moreira (Miles Davis), Killah Priest (Wu-Tang Clan), Chuck D (Public Enemy), Bill Summers, Dudley Perkins, Eddie Henderson, Mike Clark (Herbie Hancock), Georgia Muldrow, DJ Goo, and other gifted wayseers whom he encounters--and embraces--worldwide.
Asked about his motives, Brian reflects, "This music isn't mine and the minute I start trying to own it, it's all over. It's my responsibility to pass on what I've learned. That's living the tradition."
Kentyah Fraser is a DJ/producer, percussionist, aspiring writer, and burgeoning pop culture educator. As a one-time assistant and de facto mentee of Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) he learned the ropes of the indie music industry (both good and bad) from one of its most astute and consistent producers. Having managed Spooky's Synchronic Records Kentyah chose, until now, to remain behind the scenes, but is now pulling back the curtain to boldly amble forth into the public eye as a producer, conceptualist, and on stage DJ personality. His total commitment to intellectual stimulation through vibrant and “evolutionary-minded” pop culture takes brilliant form with his debut release from Motéma, Evolutionary Minded, a joint project with jazz/soul legend Brian Jackson which re-casts the Brian Jackson/Gil Scott-Heron Midnight Band catalog in a twenty-first century cultural light, featuring an A-list of jazz, hip-hop and soul artists.
Kentyah takes his auteur cues from his mentor, DJ Spooky and other visionaries he's met and been influenced by along the way: Bill Laswell (bassist, producer and record label owner); Teo Macero (jazz saxophonist and famed Columbia Records producer responsible for Miles Davis' Bitches Brew and many other major works); RZA (Wu Tang leader, producer and visionary); Madlib (legendary LA progressive hip-hop producer); as well as various left-wing political icons including Cornel West and Howard Zinn. Now, as Kentyah steps forth to bring his own sizable creative and cultural sensibilities into the sonic swirl of post hip-hop improvisational music, hybrid funk forms and political discourse, the world has a new evolutionary-minded powerhouse to reckon with.
In his developing career, Kentyah has already worked with many of the most notable "musician's musicians" in the music industry: Ron Carter, Killah Priest, Tony Allen, Dead Prez, Bill Laswell, Mike Clark, Paul Jackson, Bill Summers, Chuck D, Snoop (Dogg) Lion, George Clinton, Mike Stern, Charnett Moffett, and Airto to name a few. As a thought-shifter, he has engaged in public dialog with Bobby Seale (co-founder of the Black Panther Party who is also featured on Kentyah's recording debut), Stanislav Gorf and Stanley Krippner (key pioneers of transpersonal psychology), Harvard psychedelic guru Ralph Metzner, Dagara shaman Malidoma Somé, and many others.
Kentyah holds a Masters in Psychology and is about to begin a PhD in Integrative Consciousness in fall 2013. With many visions and projects in the works, expect to hear more soon from this visionary artist and thinker.
"Kentyah is like this generation’s Bill Laswell or something...he's some kind of strange magician in my mind's eye." – MC Killah Priest, Wu Tang Clan
"Kentyah is a young man with vision who works real hard at putting together music with a powerful message! He gets great artists to work together who dont even know each other and really getting the best out of them…He is a turntable-ist, producer, beat master and has some new and intense ideas." – Mike Clark
"This is prophetic art at the highest level!" – Cornel West, when asked about Kentyah's debut project, Evolutionary Minded