DIRECTIONS with DJs JOHN KONG and JOHN SIKICH at the Rivoli (332 Queen West), Friday (March 2). $5-$8. 416-596-1908. Rating: NNNNN
The members of Directions know all about the dangers of taking club music off wax and onto the stage.The Toronto-based seven-piece live jazz/house crew have heard the horror stories of funky bands who can mime a four-four house thump gradually losing the plot and succumbing to night-long one-song jam sessions. Fire twirlers and hacky-sack teams need not apply here.
"That jam-band scenario was something we really tried to avoid when we put the band together in 1999," Directions trumpeter Benji Perosin insists. "We all come from jazz and funk bands where people took 20-minute solos. We're trying to actually play songs here."
Much of Directions' appeal comes from how they deftly straddle both the club and live-music scenes. The three-song taster of the group's forthcoming album is a polished studio affair, all warm grooves and nu-school soul with a house beat thumping just under the surface.
Live, things become much more raw, with the big vocals of Chantal Thompson soaring over electric piano, jazzy guitar and hard horn bursts, and improvisation meeting solid grooves.
"We feel good because a lot of club people are digging us," Perosin admits. "People warm up fairly quickly, especially those who really only go out to see DJs. There's a groan when they first see the instruments -- 'Oh no, another live band' -- but after the first song, they're in. I feel like we're bridging a couple of worlds.
"As much as there's an affinity to house with what we're doing, it's still live. The kick drum's not always going to go 'boom, boom, boom.' It's going to change, and that keeps it fresh."