For seven years, Roger C. Jeffrey has been refining his tribute to Gil Scott-Heron, the influential black poet-singer best known for progressive scorchers like “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” “Johannesburg,” and “The Bottle.” The Statement 7th Draft, recently presented by Jeffrey’s troupe, follows years of discouraging news about Scott-Heron’s addiction and incarceration. This brother once spoke truth to power and, when need be, turned the mirror of loving, unflinching honesty toward his own community. Statement—mixing dance, film, music, song, and spoken word—evokes the impact of his style of witness. Tapper Ayodele Casel, slouch hat pulled low over one unsmiling eye, strikes the floor with an unrelenting rat-a-tat-tat-goddamn so direct you jerk your head back. Camille Brown (I’m going around you), Catherine Foster (Ooman), and Telly Fowler and Brandon B. Perry-Russell (Too Much Color/Forgiveness) throw so much passionate firepower, you wonder if the troupe’s name isn’t due for revision.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 1, 2005