Groove Line

Wed. April 23, 2008 12:00 AM
by DJ Plez

Club Construction
Wow, while the economy may be down and gas prices are definitely up, there seems to be a nightclub construction boom going on in Chicago. Hydrate closed its doors after this past Saturday night and is in the midst of a remodel. Spin is in the process of a major expansion northward that will lead to a new party space with a dance floor and much needed additional bathrooms. Up in Uptown, the owners of Crew are still planning on opening up Wilde Pug, a bar and dance club two doors down from their popular sports bar. Finally, the real big deal coming down the pike is the unconfirmed rumor that the West Hollywood, CA-based The Abbey is building a multi-million dollar, multi-story structure on North Halsted across the street from Las Maninitas. The Abbey is wildly and widely popular out on the Left Coast and its presence here in Chicago will undoubtedly have a significant impact on Boystown.

"Wright On!"
OMG! The new album by Lizz Wright, THE ORCHARD (Verve), is an incredible piece of musical magic. Possessed of a beautifully strong voice, Wright presents 12 tracks on this third effort of hers that has been hailed by many as both the best adult contemporary and best jazz vocal albums to be released thus far in 2008. Her smoky vocal performance is hauntingly seductive and her effortless ability to blend jazz, R&B, and gospel will undoubtedly bring comparisons to the likes of Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. Don't sleep on Ms. Wright; THE ORCHARD needs to be in your collection.

Groovy Groove Armada
Right now, the #1 song on my DJ playlist is the Friscia & Lamboy House Remix of "Love Sweet Sound," the new dance single off of Groove Armada's new artist album SOUNDBOY ROCK (Strictly Rhythm). The London dance duo that make up Groove Armada, Tom Findlay and Andy Cato, are truly clicking on all cylinders with the single, in album and remix versions, and have produced a 15-track CD filled with a smorgasbord of global electronica styles that make up a complete and fulfilling package. My other fave song on the album is "Get Down" with vocals performed by Stush. I highly recommend that you check out the video for the song the next time you go YouTube-ing: the dancing and roaming gang of bunny rabbits is too cool. Groove Armada has been around for more than a decade and SOUNDBOY ROCK is a testament to the fact that they are still a relevant and influential force within dance music.

Another huge influence on electronica over the past decade is none other than Moby, who has just released his sixth studio album, LAST NIGHT (Mute). Having forged a reputation as a master of meditative and more ambient electronica, this new album is more encompassing, compressing a night of NYC clubbing - as he sees it and has experienced it from a lot of DJing recently - into a single disc. It takes the listener on the emotional and energetic journey of a night out on the town: building to a peak-hours hands in the air euphoria, a trip to the tripped-out after-hours, and the lushness of the early morning daybreak. Not solely reliant on electronica, Moby also incorporates some disco and old-school hip-hop, genres that were very much a part of the clubbing scene in NYC back when he was partying hard in the 1980s. But while it may flash back to the past on occasion, LAST NIGHT is a very ambitious project that is all about today and where Moby thinks electronica and dance are going in the future.

30 Down. 30 More To Go?
Centaur is back at it again and it has hit another home run with its latest continuous mix, GLOBAL GROOVE: LIVE 3 . Mixed by DJ David Knapp and DJ Escape this CD is a full on high-energy peak-hours affair filled with tracks that have recently been rocking dance floors around the world and a few that are sure to be hits in the coming months. Among the album's 13 songs are "The Boss" by Kristine W, "Another Cha Cha" by Offer Nissim, "Stars" by Erika Jayne, "Amazing" by Celeda, "Eye Can See U" by Suzanne Palmer, and "Say You Will" by Inaya Day. Knapp and Escape are formidable creative forces on their own and thus it is no surprise that as a team they have succeeded in putting together a mix that will undoubtedly delight many throughout the spring and into the summer.

It's Randy Jackson's World
Branching out, and quite profitably so, from his "American Idol" judges seat, Randy Jackson is proving to be quite a significant media mogul with current projects that can be seen on television and heard on radio (and on your MP3 player). On MTV, Jackson produced the highly-rated "America's Best Dance Crew," a multi-week competition featuring hip-hop dance groups. The dancing on this show was top-notch and incredibly inventive while the host (Mario Lopez) and the panel of judges (choreographer Shane Sparks, rapper Lil Mama, and former N'Sync member J.C. Chasez) added tons of coolness and sexiness to the show.

More closely related to his musical roots, Jackson, who is an accomplished Grammy Award winning rock bassist, has been busy in the studio this past year creating RANDY JACKSON'S MUSIC CLUB – VOLUME ONE (Dream Merchant 21). This CD features songs by the likes of Joss Stone, Katherine McPhee, Angie Stone, Richie Sambora and his fellow "AI" judge Paula Abdul. Not surprisingly, MUSIC CLUB is a solid radio-friendly effort that is sure to please a wide range of listeners. This new CD (which is charting well), combined with "Dance Crew" and the current season of "American Idol" is proof that Jackson is arguably one of the most influential persons in American pop culture today.