By Jena Ardell
By Brian McManus
By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Katherine Turman
By Chris Kornelis
By Brian McManus
The charismatic Dose and his Dominican and Boricua boys from Washington Heights and Jersey are really a house-hiphop crew with roots in the peak Tommy Boy aesthetic masquerading as a merengue band. The psychic core of Cutting Records, Dose and fellow Fulanito MC Winston Rosa have released Latin house records as 2 in a Room and 740 Boyz. At S.O.B.'s, they reprised two older hits, "Wiggle It," and "El Trago," a Spanglish house stomp that once got airplay on MTV Europe. But this was a night of Hispañola solidarity (Haitian group Zin would follow them), and Fulanito were reveling in their Latinocentrism. Spinning and jumping in unison, Fulanito's furious five belted out flag-waving odes to the beaches and mountains of the Dominican Republic, and sarcastic laments about women who cheat on them. But when El Gordito (the fat one), shimmied his considerable girth, their true street colors showed. "You know who taught him how to do that?" said Dose. "Big Pun." Ed Morales
Years ago, Ellington scholar Andrew Homzy and I shared a running joke about one of the two albums released under Billy Strayhorn's name in his lifetime: The Peaceful Side. That title seemed rather redundant to us in those antiquated days of Strayhorn scholarship, when we associated the great composer, songwriter, and Ellington collaborator exclusively with the luxurious ballads that he wrote for supreme sensualist Johnny Hodges there could never have been such a thing as an Aggressive Side or Brutal Side of Billy Strayhorn. New revelations in David Hajdu's watershed biography, Lush Life, have done much to correct that obsolete notion.
With his stylistic foundation in Nat Cole and Johnny Hartman (the definitive interpreters of "Lush Life"), it's only logical that Allan Harris, who is probably the most exciting young male jazz singer on the scene, would stake his claim as the first major singer to tackle an entire program of Strayhorniana. Harris's weekend, December 11 to 13, at The Jazz Standard part of a precentennial season of Duke & Billy concerts, given by avant-gardists David Murray and Marty Ehrlich as well as authentic Ellingtonian Louis Bellson (this Thursday at Pace) showed that there were many more sides to Strayhorn than he'd been given credit for in the years when he labored under Ellington's shadow.
Lesser-known songs like "Oo" and "Nigh-time" all but exploded in scintillating, Latinate arrangements by pianist David Hazeltine. "My Little Brown Book" opened with a rarely heard verse that sounded more like Charles Aznavour than anything out of the universe of big-band swing. "Just a Sittin' and a Rockin'" conveyed a jubilant mood that was virtually the opposite of that depicted in the lyric (Strayhorn kicks butt!), and likewise, the usually languid "Lotus Blossom" became an uptempo bebop scat feature. Best of all was "Passion Flower," reconstructed by Harris and guest tenor Don Braden in a Coltrane mode it could have been called "A Flower Supreme." Nor were Strayhorn's ballads neglected, like "Something To Live For" and a newly lyricized treatment of "Chelsea Bridge." Harris instantly cut to the core of this material, which he described as "Opening up a place in the heart I didn't know I had." Will Friedwald
When Paul van Dyk launched his Twilo set last Friday with samples of Goldie's "Inner City Life," I cringed. Would we suffer another celebrity DJ set like the metal mouth's gig last spring, when hundreds of starstruck trainspotters herded around the DJ booth, crippling the party vibe?
False alarm. Before Goldie's anarchic drum loops kicked in, the German spin meister's authoritarian bassline seized control and a six-hour amusement-park ride began. Like many trance-isters, van Dyk loves roller coasters: portentous keyboard melodies and tweaky sound effects pile on top of 120 unwavering beats per minute. Each layer inexorably pulls the disco train higher. At the summit, some bass and synths momentarily drop out to give dancers a panoramic soundscape view before sonic hell breaks loose and the train plunges. Everybody screams!! When the track levels out, he wipes the aural slate clean and the train resumes its ascent, over and over. But not ad nauseam unless you're sober.
"It's all about the music!" insists a leading trance promoter. Believe that at the risk of boredom, or worse, sleepiness. Trance is drug music, with ecstasy or acid stoking many engines. As for SSSNNNFFF!that giant sucking sound heard around 5:30 a.m.weren't no Yamaha, Casio, or bathroom sex producing that effect.
Paul's set was harder than the original mixes on recent domestic releases of his two- and four-year-old 45rpm and Seven Ways. Both are more Rohypnol late-morning wind-down than Ritalin predawn blastoff. Heavier artillery included Binary Finary's recent hi-NRG-inspired anthem "1998," which hurled a sweat-soaked baldy into catatonia. "I LOVE THIS SONG!" he violently screamed. I asked why. Suddenly spellbound, he stared blankly, eyes buggin' and jaw hanging, then spun away. They don't call it trance for nothin'. Ernie Glam