JAZZANOVA at Fez Batik (129 Peter), Saturday (June 30). $17. 416-204-9660. Rating: NNNNN
it's hard to disagree with the members of Jazzanova when they talk about the rising influence of an alternative club music scene.Rooted more in jazz and fusion than soul and disco, with influences that stretch from West Africa to the Brazilian rain forests, the organic beats made by crews like Trüby Trio, Matthew Herbert, UFO and Kruder & Dorfmeister that are championed by DJs like Gilles Peterson and Patrick Forge are quickly becoming more than just an underground phenomenon. And Jazzanova are the movement's biggest stars.
The Berlin collective of six DJs and producers operate Wu-Tang-style, with each member running their own show. Occasionally, they come together in the studio for group projects.
Jazzanova's own tracks have become low-key house classics, as have the crew's series of remixes for people like 4 Hero, Incognito, Ursula Rucker and MJ Cole -- collected on the self-explanatory two-disc set The Remixes 1997.
Now, with work on their debut full- length well underway and set for release in February 2002, Jazzanova are concentrating on taking their underground scene above ground and creating a true community between themselves and like-minded producers, DJs and fans.
"There is an underground club scene worldwide, and I really mean worldwide," Jazzanova DJ Claas Brieler offers from his Berlin bunker. "Yesterday morning when I woke up, though, I thought, "Shit, this scene is still not connected enough.' That's what we have to concentrate on.
"The demand is there for people to listen to organic, harmony-oriented music, and it's not only on the dance floor, either. It's just a matter of making the music available. How will people know about Vikter Duplaix or IG Culture or Dego if the records are hidden away in the corner somewhere, and all people see are Beatles Anthologies and The Best Of Harry Belafonte?"
To help get the word out, the members of Jazzanova have been playing their favourite records every other Wednesday on their Internet radio show -- at www.sonarkollectiv.de -- and also pooling their resources.
The crew's Sonar Kollectiv organization is housed in a Berlin warehouse and includes eight record labels, a booking agency, a graphics design firm and a recording studio.
"Sonar was something we could do locally," Brieler explains. "First we invented it just to have a platform. Then we realized that we needed to be more professional, so we only released tracks that were very good.
"We pooled our resources, built the studio and created the office. From here we can do the radio show, pool the talent that exists out there and really start to create a community. The only way this will be successful is if we all work together and support each other."
Oddly, Brieler's model for the underground scene coming together isn't in Berlin or even London, but right here in Toronto.
The DJ can't speak highly enough of T.O.'s Movement crew and is already saving his deutschmarks for another trip to DJ Aki's Cosmos record shop.
"I don't know if it's known in Toronto, but Movement is one of the most famous parties in the world," he shouts. "Everyone who DJs there comes back and says how amazing it is. It's the only party where you can get 1,500 people together in a room dancing to this music.
"They seem very well connected to the rest of the world, and have made possible everything that we dream of here at Sonar Kollektiv. Plus they have fabulous records, and seem happy to take my money in exchange for them."
JAZZ FEST CRITICS' PICKS
S.O.U.L. Una Mas, Thursday (June 28)
Bebel Gilberto Nathan Phillips Square, Thursday (June 28)
Nicholas Payton Nathan Phillips Square, Friday (June 29)
Jazzanova Fez Batik, Saturday (June 30)
Los Hombres Calientes du Maurier Stage, Saturday (June 30)
Osunlade Una Mas, Saturday (June 30)