New York Blade | November 1, 2002 Issue
by Matt Kalkhoff
 

In town for the Billboard Dance Music Summit and an appearance on Fox 5’s Good Day New York, I caught former Exposé member Gioia Bruno’s performance at Stonewall on October 4. Fans of the 80s pop trio may recall that Gioia had to leave the group at the height of its success in 1991 after an inoperable tumor was discovered on her vocal chords. Tragically, doctor’s told her she’d never sing again. But after a decade of healthy living (and three years not even talking!), the tumor miraculously disappeared. Promoting her new solo career, Gioia sang her 2001 club anthem "Free To Be" and her provocative new single, "From The Inside" (the latter having been recently remixed by Junior Vasquez), as well as memorable Exposé chart-toppers like "Come Go With Me" and "Point of No Return," for an enthusiastic, beyond-capacity crowd. It’s great to see Gioia back in the spotlight with a truly extraordinary and inspiring comeback.

Clubland Chaos

Exactly one week after I moved to New York City, my favorite nightclub Twilo was shut down. It was the first in a series of setbacks that threatened to further diminish Manhattan’s struggling nightlife scene. But I made due with the old standards (Vinyl, Roxy, even Splash), thanks in large part to the top-notch talent regularly occupying their DJ booths, and remained optimistic that good news loomed on the horizon.

Hopes were high when Junior Vasquez moved his weekly after-hours party, now dubbed "Earth," uptown to the massive Exit nightclub. Unfortunately, in the immortal words of Miss Deborah Cox, "Things just ain’t the same." After steadily fizzling over the past year, the once fertile Earth is now essentially barren, leaving many club-goers once again restless for fresh party alternatives. (After the dreadfully bland music I have endured during my past few visits to Earth, including last weekend’s Monster Ball, this party has regrettably fallen off my radar).

Then there’s the Crobar drama. When the club’s owners miraculously jumped through an imposing series of hoops earlier this year to secure the proper permits and licensing to open their proposed venue on West 27th Street (across from the ill-fated Twilo), all indications were that the Manhattan version of the Chicago/Miami glamour-club would be celebrating its grand opening well before year’s end. Details are sketchy as to exactly why this will not be the case, but it now appears that we’ll be lucky if we’re lounging in the Dolce & Gabana-appointed VIP lounge by Gay Pride 2003. Sigh.

But the news is not all bad. Victor Calderone’s monthly Tribalism parties on Sunday nights at arc (f/k/a Vinyl) have given the master DJ his first regular gig in the city since he left Roxy last year. And it has just been confirmed that Calderone will take up residency at the new Limelight (Republic@Limelight?) when the disco church reopens after months of extensive renovations on Sunday, November 24 (projected date at press time, subject to change). Calderone will play every other week while the remaining slots will be filled with a rotating roster of talent. It’s unfortunate that the only gay night will once again be Sunday, but I guess we couldn’t really expect John Blair to compete with his Saturday night Roxy party.

Music That Shapes Our World

I rarely write CD reviews, but considering how many promos I receive each month, it would be a shame not to share some highlights. I had planned to feature Junior Vasquez’s "Earth Music 2" (Tommy Boy) in this space, but since he totally blew off our scheduled phone interview last week (and subsequent attempts to reschedule), we’ll just skip over the man whose bio alleges that his "following rivals that of Jesus Christ" (!) and move right along to Chris Cox’s masterpiece ensemble, "12 Inches of Cox" (Provocative Music). The hetero half of the Thunderpuss duo unleashes a refreshingly current peak-hour assault of slamming tunes, including Who Da Funk’s "Shiny Disco Balls," Thunderpuss & Barnes’ "Head," and "Open Up Your Mind" by Eyes Cream. Timo Maas’ brilliant dub of Moby’s "We Are All Made of Stars" and Narcotic Thrust’s "Safe From Harm" also stand out, although I can honestly say there’s not a single disappointment on this exceptional CD.

If you’re looking for a slightly tamer, albeit no less sublime collection of shrewdly mixed music, check out John Creamer & Stephane K clever attempt to "join the dots between progressive, tribal, deep and funky house" on their stunning double-CD set, "Bedrock" (Pioneer).

For the philanthropic-minded dance music enthusiast, may I suggest West End Records’ "Dance For Life" compilation. Mixed by DJ David DePino to celebrate the 10th anniversary of LIFEbeat: The Music Industry Fights AIDS, this collection of West End classics like Taana Gardner’s "Heartbeat" and several new tracks features productions by industry heavyweights like Danny Tenaglia, Hex Hector and Angel Moraes. Please visit WestEndRecords.com to learn more about this noble effort.

Back at ya in 30 days…


© 2002 Matt Kalkhoff