Session's InSession's In
Broken beat, nu-jazz, future jazz, the West London sound, breakbeat house -- whatever you choose to call it, this music hasn't had much of a forum in Toronto. While the more eclectic, soulful local DJs have been incorporating the emerging sound into their mixes for a few years, until now there hasn't been a night dedicated to this new fusion of drum 'n' bass, deep house and R&B.
Session is a new biweekly that started last Friday at 56 Kensington featuring Movement's John Kong, PTR recordings' Moonstarr, Andrew Allsgood, DJ Stuart and Roland Deschamps.
While all these DJs have been known to drop some broken beats in their sets, this night allowed them to focus on the newest incarnations of electronic jazz, and may help expand the audience for something outside of the sometimes restrictive genre lines of electronic music.
At first listen, it sounds similar to 2-step, but a deeper immersion reveals that this music is much looser and mellower, and the rhythms are way more heavily syncopated. It is, in many ways, the offspring of jazz-influenced, experimental d 'n' b and soulful house, whereas its cousin, UK garage, is more more akin to the harder side of d 'n' b and commercial house.
Opening night drew a decent-sized crowd, and quite a few were dancing by midnight even though the rhythms are still unfamiliar to many. At 56 Kensington every first and third Friday, Session is a pay-what-you-can event.
bobitto's mixbobitto's mix
It's much easier to market an aesthetic that's already been defined and named. In dance music, this has led to an incredible plethora of genres but has also made it difficult for DJs who have based their style on a more eclectic vision to reach an audience.
New York DJ Bobbito's style comes from the early hiphop mixers he heard as a youngster. It has little to do with scratching or even rap, but comes from an appreciation for all rhythm-based music. In Bobbito's world, rare funk can be played next to Led Zeppelin, salsa next to roots reggae.
Luckily, most in attendance last Friday at Roxy Blu were prepared for this and responded with whoops of delight to almost every cut. This style is getting better responses lately in Toronto -- years of dance events featuring endless variations of one rhythm have created a hunger for DJs who have the ability to surprise a dance floor.
More than a decade of marketing campaigns pushing electronic dance music on clubbers have also created a backlash against what is starting to be perceived as a manufactured, soulless culture -- nobody likes feeling like a target market.
late bloomers late bloomers
Soul Fusion Express, a long-running Tuesday-night radio show on CKLN, showcases deep house and related sounds. The resident DJs, Jason Barham and Kevin 'Kaje' Johnson, were the guests last Saturday at 488 Wellington (below Mersini) for a weekly house event called Silk.
Unfortunately, club crowds in the city are leaving home later and later -- most got there not long before last call and as a result didn't get much of a chance to dance. Like in the early 90s, the after-hours scene is starting to affect club attendance.
The SFE boys are good DJs, but hearing them in an almost empty bar isn't the best way to get a sense of what they can do.