JASON PALMA playing with JON SIKICH as part of Footprints at the Rivoli (332 Queen West), Friday (July 12), www.disc12.com; and with DJ STUART at Higher Ground Wednesdays at Alto Basso (718 College), 416-534-9522. Rating: NNNNN
When news started spreading that Aki had parted ways with Una Mas and that his Movement pals Jason Palma and Dee Jay Nav were ending their weekly Saturday-night Shifting Gears party there, people couldn't help but wonder what was going on. Turns out the two developments are unrelated. Aki's move is about personal issues between him and the other owners.
Palma and Nav's departure is motivated by the fact that they're sick of the house scene.
Palma's focusing more of his energy on two events with up-and-coming jazz funk collector DJ Stuart: the revived Higher Ground Wednesdays and Footprints, a monthly jazz party at the Rivoli that also features Hamilton-based spinner Jon Sikich.
The positioning of these two nights outside of typical dance club venues is deliberate, as both DJs are feeling the need to distance themselves from the glitz and hype that have come to be associated with a night out in the entertainment district.
"I know a lot of the people who'd be interested in what we do are now shying away from it because they don't like the vibe," explains Palma in the record store he owns with Nav, Play de Record.
"I wouldn't want to go to a lot of these clubs, because they're not fun to me. I'm really sick of the meathead Saturday-night club idiots, and you can't escape them.
"I love the fact that there are new people coming out to clubs, I love that 905ers are coming out, I love that people who don't know too much about the music are coming to clubs, but I don't love idiots. Unfortunately, with that come a lot of idiots who are arrogant and ignorant and rude, who scare the women and who get drunk and start fights.
"I'm actually feeling really anti-club right now."
Shifting Gears, he says, is ending, on hiatus at least.
"It's been a struggle. It's gotten to the point now where it's hard for us to keep our heads above water. There's too much stuff going on and fewer people going out. The only nights that we were really packed were when we had a guest in.
"The club has been gracious in offering us the chance to take some time off and come back, which we're considering, but we need some time off."
Palma's also less interested in playing house in general these days, and wants to develop his connection with DJ Stuart.
"Ever since the Octopus lounge closed, we've been talking about doing something similar," Stuart agrees. "Me and the Session guys went to Alto Basso looking for a space, but they only had Wednesdays open, which was no good for us because Andrew Allsgood plays at Glide, so I thought, 'Why not ask Jay if he'd want to do Higher Ground there?'"
Palma describes how he and Stuart met through the record shop Palma worked at before he bought it.
"Stuart would come in and buy house, but slowly over time I noticed that he was buying more and more jazz and experimenting musically on all levels, buying hiphop and techno as well.
"Whenever I see that in a customer, I notice it, because that's what happened to me. We hit it off and over time became very good friends. To be honest, there aren't too many DJs who can do what I would like to do on Wednesday nights, and Stu is one of them."