DJ Mark Farina
San Francisco Sessions
I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Mr. Farina is a fan of fashion. As in his previous creative and fluid effort in Mushroom Jazz , in the San Francisco Sessions we sit as audience to an artist whose tailoring of a compilation rises to the level of a couturier. But unlike the courtier, whose egos often mask the practicality of their work, Farina’s attention to blending ( I dislike the word ‘mix’ — it errs on the side irreverence) and sewing together the fourteen pieces of this work here seeks not to make a particular statement outside of the current vocabulary of jazzy house or deep grove techno, but rather to provide an all too uncommon opportunity to simply be entertained without too much effort.
The first track, “Bougie Soliterre (Got the Bug)” eases in with the sounds of crashing ocean waves. It seems to allude to an incoming broadcast from Northeast Brazil, the excellent trumpets of Fabio Morgera and all too rare flutes of Kaidi Tatham interspersed with energetic bossa nova-type vocal gymnastics. But it is mostly the complex percussion representative from this track Farina uses as his thread to set the stage for the spell that follows. And a spell it is. At times, Farina’s attention to his craft neglects the sense of diversity and energy that many of us look for in a compilation like this. Except for a few brief quake shakes in track 6, Rick Preston’s “Spring Fling,” it isn’t until Rae & Christian’s compelling Cuban rhythm-laced “Spellbound Cove” (track 8) that we are re-awakened. Indeed, depending on your mood, you find that this is where you jump to on a second listen to this CD. But that is no reason to give this CD any less priority in your attention span. The subsequent “Sunny Cove,” borrowing bass lines from early Le Chic, is vaguely cinematic in its drama and almost overpowering its brief appearance before falling victim to Farina’s needle and thread. But just wait, the party has just begun. (Does he do this on purpose? — there are only five tracks left!) Lovers of George Benson will find nirvana not visited since Masters at Work’s Nuyorican Soul on in Farina’s understated treatment of Busta Funk’s understated “Seriousfunkilla.”
As a reminder that aural fashion ought to be fun, in Markus Nikolai’s breathy “Bushes,” Farina continues his parade with something that I can only describe as the whispers of a funky cowgirl singing around a bunch of downbeats sprinkled with the arias of meadow birds. Unusual, easy, meaningful? Who cares. I’ll wear it to my next party (but I’ll catwalk to track 8 first).
OM Records, 245 S. Van Ness, San Francisco, CA 94103; http://www.om-records.com