Watched the sunset Sunday (July 1) at the Sunnyside Pavilion while Ron Trent spun a moving set of deep, spiritual New York house. RNB shows seem to have been hit with a weather curse lately -- a surprise rainfall hit the Larry Heard party, and this one, while covered, coincided with strong winds and sudden cold. Attendance was high, though, and few were complaining.
Trent is at his best playing marathon sets, building a mood gradually and seducing listeners before hitting them with euphoric disco tracks. Spotted many local house DJs and promoters in attendance, as well as Osunlade and Wunmi, in T.O. for a gig the previous night.
Caught the end of the Pocket Dwellers' tight, funky set Friday (June 29) night at B-side. Much improved in the past few years, they were already one of Toronto's better jazz-funk-hiphop outfits. Traces of experimental 70s American jazz are emerging as well as some disco influences, and the well-thought-out and musical arrangements leave lots of space for all the instruments. Local crate-digger Paul E. Lopes spun some quality soul and funk before and after, providing appropriate bookends for the evening.
Turns out 14-year-old DJ Mr. Kicks, whom I lauded last week, has an unfair advantage. His big sister is local house diva Nicky Lawrence, who performed Friday at Una Mas accompanied by her kid brother on the decks.
Plus, "I got into house through my dad," explains Mr. Kicks, who now gets to plunder the fruits of his father's 25 years of record collecting.
The brother-and-sister act is a good gimmick, but the music stands on its own. Lawrence sings mainly classic jazz songs over instrumental house records, and the duo possess a compelling rawness and spontaneity. Their Girl From Ipanema left Bebel Gilberto's lacklustre performance on Thursday a dim memory. Mr. Kicks is already being booked in Montreal by Jo Jo Flores, so we'll probably be hearing more from him soon.
Two new lounge-type affairs worth noting.
Lincoln's (431 Richmond West, 416-504-3081) is a small but very luxurious bar featuring jazzy electronic music spun on a surprisingly good sound system. The drinks are pricey, but they're all doubles. Don't be fooled by the nondescript exterior (the sign says Lindsey Drew Fashions). It's actually a good place to go to pretend to be rich.
Fiesta, a Sunday-afternoon patio party at Fez Batik, also started up last weekend. Billed as a classic house BBQ, the DJs this week, Angel and Cullen, weren't actually playing that many old songs, but there was a nice, mellow, feel-good vibe to their selections. Appreciated the extra sound system the promoters brought in -- not deafening, but respectable. One complaint: there must be something better then wrestling to put on the TV.