pop goes moonraker
Checked out Boston-based jazzy break beat band Moonraker last Sunday at the Reverb. They've played in Toronto a few times and have built up a bit of a local following through their association with the Nice + Smooth label.
All of the five-piece's members -- led by vocalist Kelli Scarr -- are talented musicians playing a style comparable to what used to be called acid jazz, and then triphop, but is now often referred to as downtempo.
While they reference various aspects of dance music in their songs, quoting drum 'n' bass, house and jazz funk ideas, they're still much closer to being a pop band than an electronic project.
They make good use of dynamics, and pack a lot of ideas into every song, but at times sound just a bit too generic to be really exciting. They're very accessible, and with the right support could do well for themselves as a pop band. But as club music they still leave a bit to be desired in the way of hypnotic rhythmic oomph.
vinyl funks up volume
Volume, the club formerly known as Area 51, has started a new Wednesday night called Vinyl Fusion, featuring a house band with some of the city's best Afro-Cuban and jazz musicians.
The band is split evenly between older experienced professionals and young enthusiastic proteges. They bounce easily between traditional Cuban jazz and what their bass player, Freddy Suarez, calls Cuban funk. Since there's no cover, it's a fairly risk-free mid-week night out, ideal for those moments when you really miss quality musicianship.
jay dee barred
Even the promoters were baffled last Friday as to why Jay Dee, aka Jay Dilla, was stopped from crossing the border to DJ at Fez Batik as part of a Milk and Goldclub co-presentation. All the work permits were in order, courtesy of Goldclub's sponsorship, and he had just returned from some gigs in Germany, so it couldn't have been because of a criminal record.
"It's probably just because he's black and they thought he was a thug," Milk's Gani offered up as a possible explanation. "It's kind of ironic how American politicians like to make a big deal out of our supposedly porous border when this kind of story is all too common for touring musicians and DJs."
Filling in for him were DJ Serious and DJ Fase, who both looked like they were enjoying every minute of the unexpected gig.
Unfortunately, some miscommunication between the door staff meant that some scenesters didn't realize Jay Dee wasn't appearing until after they had paid. They might have guessed, though, that something was up because of the reduced cover.
Fortunately, the staff was accommodating and gave refunds to the confused fans.
Looked into the recently renovated Una Mas last Friday for the fourth Art And Soul party. DJs Ray Prasad and special guest Gene King, both from CKLN's Vibes 'N' Vinyl show, were on hand. The program for the night was deep soulful house, with a few classics thrown in for good measure.
While the crowd wasn't huge, the turnout was still very respectable for a newer name in the promotions game.
The club itself has remedied many of its nagging problems. The sound downstairs and upstairs is much improved, and a second DJ booth has been installed upstairs. The air conditioning felt stronger and the famous bump in the floor from the summer's water damage has been fixed as well.
The look of the club is still the same, but that was never a problem -- it's always been one of the more tastefully designed clubs in the city.
Now, if only they'd bring back those handy monthly events calendars.