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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

All Jazzed Up

Mark Farina returns in support of sixth Mushroom compilation

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Mark Farina is a self-proclaimed minstrel.

Since his early days of DJing the Chicago and San Francisco underground, Farina always aimed to put his own spin on the not-so-mainstream sound he had come to embrace. Turning audiences on to obscure records became the beat he stepped to best, even when his organic groove downshifted in the early 1990s with a compilation of mix tapes he dubbed Mushroom Jazz.

Launched as a cassette series, the Mushroom Jazz tapes emerged from a small run in Chicago into a series that has entered its sixth installment on San Francisco's Om Records. Now for the first time since May 2006, Farina is bringing back the breezy vibe to Milwaukee for a winding three-hour set of Mushroom- and house-inspired beats.

Unlike at his 2006 performance at the former Mantra Lounge, Farina will be taking the overtly synthetic stage of Moct (240 E. Pittsburgh Ave.), a nightspot better known for its electro and dance rock parties than classic house cuts. Adding to the earthiness of the night is Chicago downtempo legend G-Most (New York), who opens the show with a set of deep cuts and soulful spins.

Farina's sixth Mushroom Jazz release stays true to form, blending classic funky, instrumental hip-hop, soul and blunted beats with fluid grooves and fade-outs. For his upcoming performance, the producer/DJ will unleash a three-hour set featuring the vibes of his Mushroom Jazz repertoire before morphing into the dance groove that has become his signature.

Joining Farina in his return to Milwaukee is G-Most, a former member of Chicago's legendary Red Nail Crew. G-Most's early gigs in local record shops eventually gave way to a production partnership with Josh Michaels (aka DJ Iz). Several of their tracks appear on Farina's inaugural Mushroom Jazz 1 release, which set the tone for the series over the next 15 years. Since then, G-Most has kept musical pace by DJing events alongside Common, Busta Rhymes and DJ Scratch, to name a few.

In pairing dub-inspired grooves with melodic undertones, both G-Most and Farina find a match for the Mushroom sound that has subtly evolved since its inception. In a time when more angular dance beats have gotten bigger local billings than traditional house, it's refreshing to see a classic return to spin what he does best.

Milwaukee welcomes the return of Farina on Friday, April 17, at Moct. Sound provided by Subversion and visuals by VJ Brye. Music 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Tickets: $10 before day of the show with no waiting/guaranteed admission; $15 day of the show.

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