Ahead of Malik and The O.G’s support slot on April 11th 2014 at The Hackney Empire, Malik gives his thoughts on virtuoso saxophonist and his good friend Gary Bartz.
“Gary Bartz is legendary. I suppose he was amongst others such as Miles Davis, someone who I greatly admire. As you’ll see from my repertoire, there are a lot of undercurrents of resistance, protests, and revolution. And one of the things which has always existed with jazz is a sense of resistance and revolution. Now, Miles Davis was a man of few words, but if you look towards the latter part of his career; you see albums like “Amandla” single word, means freedom; you see albums like “Tutu” single word – the guy who stood up against apartheid for freedom. Miles said what he needed to say with his horn; as do so many of these Jazz artists.
Gary Bartz was a part of that. He was a part of that movement. Gil Scott-Heron, The Last Poets; they both use jazz as a means to carry a message of resistance. So, with myself working with Orphy Robinson, Cleveland Watkiss and other members of the Jazz Warriors of late, I feel it’s very much appropriate to align myself with those other exponents of Jazz music who have over time been associated with using the art form as a means of resistance. Jazz music was born out of the pain of slavery; and a lot of the musicians and the exponents of Jazz express themselves and their pain and their feelings through the horn. And that’s something that John Coltrane did, that’s something that Miles did, that’s something Gary Bartz does. And that’s why for me it’s a great honour to be performing alongside Gary Bartz at the gig at the Hackney Empire.
Certain things are fated to be. I had no idea when I was at the funeral of the late great Gil Scott-Heron in Harlem, New York that I would be standing in a queue to sign the book of condolences for a man who used Jazz as a vehicle for resistance as Gil did, that I would be standing right behind the man who I’m going to be supporting on 11th April. Gary Bartz was obviously a fan of Gil, he came to Gil’s funeral and that’s where we met; we met at the funeral in the line, waiting to sign the book of condolences for Gil Scott-Heron.
So I very much feel that it’s a matter of fate, that being a student of Gil Scott-Heron and having a whole swathe of jazz musicians in my band, The O.G’s, that I would be invited to come and share a platform with Gary Bartz. He’s playing the Grover Washington song book; Grover Washington Jr. was someone who I also had great admiration and respect for. We’re going to be doing what we do which is Spoken Word Poetry, with some kicking Jazz music underneath it, with members of The Jazz Warriors who form the backbone of my band Malik and The O.G’s…So we’re looking forward to that.”