Gil Scott-Heron/Makaya McCraven, “Where Did the Night Go?” (XL Recordings)
Chicago jazz-fusion drummer Makaya McCraven has re-imagined the legendary jazz-funk griot Gil Scott-Heron's final album, I'm New Here, a decade after that excellent swan song was released—and nine years after Jamie xx's remix version, We're New Here. Titled We're New Again, McCraven's interpretation is an act of deep respect from one bold musician to one of his idols: a vivifying of the textures and an intensifying of the rhythms. McCraven upgrades the songs while retaining Scott-Heron's weathered, soulful vocals, which sound like the vocalist's crammed a century of hard times into his 60 years of living (at the time of I'm New Here's recording).
Gil's "Where Did the Night Go?" is a stark meditation on time and regret, consisting only of a menacing bass-drum thump and a muted blurt of guitar distortion. Makaya doubles the length of the track and adds a chillingly beautiful flute motif and trepidatious cymbal taps. He eventually brings in methodical, tumbling beats and accelerates the flute into a monomaniacal loop that would make Jeremy Steig dizzy. McCraven's reinvention of "Where Did the Night Go?" casts a whole new light on Scott-Heron's disorientation and desperation. It's brilliant. Check out the song after the jump.