After getting all fired up by Sharon Jones 's high-energy funk set at the Rivoli Saturday night, it seemed like a good idea to continue the classic soul and funk vibe by checking out Soul Night at Fressen . Residents Jason Palma and DJ Stuart started up the weekly party a few months back, and it's since found its feet and established itself as a mellow, intimate alternative to big club nights. Last week Palma was away playing a gig in London, Ontario, leaving Stuart, who spun disco classics, steamy funk tracks and dance floor jazz, in charge of the decks. Not a lot of dancing went on - it's primarily a lounge night, but usually a few people are shaking ass at some point. There's no cover so it's not a bad spot to meet up with friends before going out to a bigger night.
Stopped by Roxy Blu Friday night to hear CeCe Rogers perform as part of Voices , a series of parties affiliated with Phatblackpussykat focusing on vocalists in house music. Rogers is best known for the seminal classic house track Someday, which he did with Marshall Jefferson back in 88, but he's sung and played piano on numerous other records over the years. Arrived to hear Jason Palma throwing down disco classics and soulful house with his trademark contagious enthusiasm. Once the crowd was ready, Rogers stepped up to the microphone and played a slow, moody piano intro, showing everyone immediately that he's actually a talented player and not just a good studio vocalist.
New York-based DJ David Dee handled cueing up the instrumental versions while Rogers played the piano and sang his heart out. Strong gospel influences dominated Rogers's sound, and he performed covers of Promised Land and Move Your Body along with a handful of his own songs.
The crowd response was great - many people sang along and threw their hands in the air every chance they got. Billing Rogers as the "godfather of house" might be stretching things, but he definitely proved to be one of the best performers in the genre.
Also on Friday night, the monthly Layers party at Tangerine featured the all-local lineup of Alvaro G , Jazzy J , Russell Harris , Darren Matsunaga and Moreno spinning an eclectic mix of all things soulful. Early in the evening the tempo is slower and the music tends toward neo-soul and conscious hiphop. As the place fills up, the sounds get more house-oriented and the pace picks up as people start dancing.
It's been interesting watching how different promoters and DJs are handling the move toward more open format nights. Some try to ignore genres completely and play whatever they want whenever they want. At others, as in this case, the variety comes from booking DJs who specialize in different sounds and then scheduling them accordingly.
There's no cover and the music is pretty decent, so it might be worth checking out next month if you're looking for something cheap and low-key but still want to dance.