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Monday, September 21, 2009

Outernational (Something Else! On 09/24/09)

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As usual, we start off with the Something Else! Intro leading us into the opener which could be a theme song of sorts for where I live (or at least it feels that way sometimes) "Fiesta Religion" by Alex Cuba. Alex's new album is called Agua Del Pozo and what I've heard from it has been an interesting mix of afro-latin tracks along with with soul & rock grooves. "Brown Paper Bag" by Me & You is another track from the Tru Thoughts Covers album I introduced last week. The folktronic-reggae feel suits a number originally performed by the Bristol UK drum & bass crew Roni Size & Reprazent. It's safe to say just about everything dance or electronic music-oriented from 1985-present coming from Bristol is influenced by dub reggae. Massive Attack, Portishead and Full Cycle (Roni Size's Label) all give respect to Smith & Mighty, essentially the godfathers of modern Bristol music. Last Friday I went out in Barcelona to a spot I like a lot, Marula Cafe, to hear some great djs. Fred Spider was playing prime time with a friend, Uri, and the guy on before them was from FundaciĆ³ Tony Manero, a great local disco-house production team. Fred played "You Can Dance (Envee Ensemble Version)" by Pinnawela, another track from Jazz & Milk Breaks 3 like "Do What" by The Jivers from last week's show. Keeping it uptempo, "If I Had A Band" by Fudge is from another collection I like, Jazz In the House -- Volume 12, as opposed to last week's selection from Volume 10. Since I was playing some jazzy house, I decided to pull out an old original in the same bag "Roy's House" by T-Bird (yes, the author of this blog.) It was something I'd written in honor of Roy Ayers, a big influence on many of us who make various types of jazz-based dance music. I have some music available for sale at Beats Digital including "Roy's House." Speaking of influential jazz musicians, Herbie Hancock's "Hang Up Your Hangups" from Manchild has left its mark on dance music. Herbie has been equally influenced as evidenced by his groundbreaking album Future Shock which featured turntablist Grandmixer DST (now known as Grandmaster DXT) and later album Future2Future which featured Rob Swift of the X-Ecutioners. While I'm on the subject of the X-Ecutioners (aka X-Men) I have the sad duty of informing you of the recent death of Rob's compatriot Roc Raida. I had the humbling honor of seeing Roc Raida "do his thing" at one of LA's legendary record stores, Aron's (also no longer on Earth.) I say "humbling" because NYC's X-Ecutioners (and many other east coast Scratch Crews) were known for doing "body tricks" which were mainly for showmanship purposes. A native west coast dj, I was a fan of California crews like Invisbl Skratch Piklz (Q-Bert, Mixmaster Mike, DJ Flare, etc.) and The Space Travellers (formerly known as The Bulletproof Scratch Hamsters--namesake of the "hamster" or reverse crossfader switch on dj mixers.) They were known for being ultra-technical masters with disregard for "scratch with your nose"-type antics (aka "body tricks.") I can tell you first-hand, when someone's hands become a blur and then seem to be coming from everywhere--behind the back, under the leg, over the shoulder--body tricks seem a lot more impressive... RIP Grandmaster Roc Raida!

"Houses In Motion" by Talking Heads is a great way to change up out of a jazz bag. Abstract funky pop as produced by Brian Eno from Remain In Light. Remixes aren't just for dance music as you all know "Clan Of The Sicilians (Glenn Bigga Bush Mix)" is a great revisit of Ennio Morricone's soundtrack classic from 1969's French gangster film of the same name. Baba Maal is known to be a forward looking artist and "International (Groucho Remix)" is proof positive. Expect to hear more remixes of this track, there's a contest going on! I've been a fan of Gladys Knight & The Pips since I was very young and as I get older I appreciate their versions of other folks' hits. "Who Is She (And What Is She To You)" is no exception and even includes a nice drum break at the top--the original by Bill Withers just starts with the guitar lick. Closing out is a singer-poet who's point of view is always interesting to me, Gil Scott-Heron. His track "Work for Peace" from a sorely overlooked album, Spirits is just as hard-hitting now as in 1993. Gil elucidates how Dwight Eisenhower warned in his farewell speech about "the military-industrial complex" and we are still dealing with it over 45 years later.

As an effort to work for peace, there is a yearly global event called Earthdance. This year I am honored to be a part of the Barcelona gathering. The myspace profile is in Spanish, but you can write a message in English (most of our crowd will be Spanish-speakers, but everyone running it are English-speakers.)

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