By AARON GAGERS
You’ve got to dig anybody today who is even aware of the late jazz great Gil Scott-Heron, let alone dedicate music to him. Patrick Ames and his new Liveness album pays honor to Scott-Heron, one of the most underrated and genius musicians of all time. Scott-Heron was a “bluesologist,” in his own words, who rapped forewarningly that “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”
Patrick Ames offers a wide-ranging EP called Liveness, and it is apparent his influence is the great jazz and great grandfather of rap, Scott-Heron. The late Scott-Heron is there in spirit throughout Ames’ recordings. “Liveness” is a respectful dedication on many levels and done in Ames’ very own bluesy style. It’s set for an April release and the timing strangely coincides with big changes in society.
Ames does not mimic or imitate, instead opting to interpret the freestyle lyrics, the poetry of the proud people out there on the city streets.
This collection of six songs is intended to sound live, hence the title, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it tries to work. But the secret of the recordings is the raw style and the talent that lies just below the surface. Ames truly conveys feelings, and it’s what Scott-Heron would have appreciated with Liveness.
“Strings twang and squeak, voices strain and break, but it all works together to make for a more soulful record,” said Jon Ireson, the sound engineer on the record. “Patrick is weaving together several different styles on this album, from Bossa Nova to slow jam to Gil-Scott Heron-inspired funk. The trick was to find that through-line to tie it all together.”
“My mother sang opera and also in the church choir (I’m a choir brat),” Ames said. “My very older brothers listened to 1960s hits and bands, and my father to Pop radio. We were close to Detroit, so it was Motown, Motown, Motown, or Puccini.”
A career of tech book publishing contributed to Ames’ socio-political viewpoints, discussing the good and bad of advances. One thing is for sure: Patrick Ames tells it like it is.
Opener “Bang Bang Bang” is well-named and puts out a point of view that encourages people to take action, much in the tone of the 1960s and 1970s style. It’s a rap-spoken word piece and discusses the topics of importance.
But it’s “Want to Believe” that has a deep groove to it. And the song gives us hope to have something in which we can all feel comfortable to put our faith in. Is he singing about himself … Is he still hoping? We know that Ames conveys a noble, common-man approach and the thing that may be most appreciated: Words that could move people to action.