Sunday 13 September 2009

The Chicago Connection

I am currently loving the work being done in Chicago by Vick Lavender.Vick has been around as a Dj and producer over the last 10 years or more often blowing up the place at his Miami WMC party's.He has many musical influences that have surrounded him during his Chicago upbringing.
Recently I was luck enough to get a short interview with him covering many aspects of his career.He is of course the head honcho and driving force behind Chicago's Sophisticado record label having produced a lot of material for Unified Records. Here is the Q & A session.

Chicago is where you currently live ( Chicago ill USA).
Where were you born ? ( I was born in Monroe, Louisiana).
When were you born? ( April 22 1967 that was a good year Lil).
What music influenced you as you grew up? ( Well a Lil bit of everything jazz,world music,Afro Cuban jazz,new wave,rock,and of course Chicago house...Larry Heard,Jamie Principle,Ten City).
Where did you grow up ? (I grew up on the west side of Chicago,the south side gets all the credit but you had cats such as myself that grew up on the west side of Chicago).
What started you DJ’ing ? (I started spinning officially in 1984 after listening to our radio station WBMX and hearing dj's like Farley Jackmaster funk,and not to metion listening to Frankie Knuckles tapes and of course live you knew it was something very special going on and besides i didn't think anyone played music exactly the way i wanted to hear it,I'm very particular about my music the way it's played or produced.
You list some jazz fusion masters as your
Influences such as Bob James,Chick Corea,
Patrice Rushen Joe Sample,Dexter Wansel,
Rodney Franklin(predominantly keyboard players)
how did you come into
contact with this music ? ( Well the very 1st record i can remember ever falling in love with was Earth wind & fire "That's the way of the world" listening to that particular record over and over i think was the first time that i think realized o.k this is what i want to do,but as far as some of the other artist in the question,they all play keys and of course the fender Rhodes is my most loved instrument,so there you have it).
Candido,Willie Colon,Azymuth go some way to
Explaining the jazz percussion influences
And John Coltrane,Dizzy Gillespie,Theolonius Monk
The heritage. ( My dad was born in Cuba "Havana" to be exact and he would listen to alot of Afro Cuban jazz artist,and so i didn't realize the crazy influence that it would have on me until i started spinning.Gravitating to such artist as Ayzmuth,Candino,Chico Hamilton,Dizzy Gullippsee,etc just sort of brought it all out of me.
Can you talk a little about your
Political stance as you site Dr. Martin Luther King
And Malcolm X
As an influence and what are your views on
Barack Obama the historic result of the groundwork
Set down by Martin Luther King.( It's no secret what Barrack O Bama has done for every person of color in this country the inspiration,the confidence he's displayed has been a pleasure to witness,i think the thing that makes me most proud is that my 14 year old daughter had a chance to see history being made at such an early age,and that priceless it doesn't get any better than that.
Dr King & Malcolm X, there isn't anything i can say that hasn't already been said about these men of course they were both great beyond explanation and they will always be in the hearts of every person who believes that all men are created equal.
Could you talk about your Mr Ali projects and your
Collaborations with Glenn Underground ? (Well both Mr A.L.I & Glenn Underground have been very important in the maturation of Vick Lavender as a producer,while I've always known what direction i wanted my music to go,i didn't always know how to get there,what both Jere Macallister & Glenn Underground taught me was just that how to use the technology to get there and alot of times that sort of thing is often overlooked,
Your current output over the last few years has been prolific
Using Sophisticado and Unified labels can you talk a
Little about how these projects came about. (Unified records was really for me at the time the only outlet i had for my tracks,Mr A.L.I put out such records as Imagine Freedom,About us, etc...but after leaving Mr A.L.I and doing my own thing i along with Steven Stewart started Sophisticado recordings and so now i am able to put out my stuff at my own hectic
Could you talk about the current Chicago House
Scene and the clubs you play and your work
With Mario Romay, Anthony Nicholson,Celeste Alexander ? ( Well theres not to many clubs here that support our brand of house music and what i mean our brand i mean artist like myself, Anthony Nicholson,Glenn Underground,it seems as though Chicago thinks what we do is a Lil far too the left,it's to musical as one promenade producer put it.
Cuatro night club gets big ups from me they consistently support all forms of house music,and that's where i do most of my damage when I'm Chicago.
Mario Romay is a class act he's been one of the people who supports my music,he gave some great advice bout maybe four years ago & appreciate it,Celeste Alexander is in the studio working on her ep & like a woman she keeps changing the
Your current output of deep house seems heavily influenced
By all the music you have come into contact with taking
Pieces from jazz,south America,horns and percussion producing
A unique Vick Lavender sound,could you talk briefly about the
Musicians you work with ? ( Now this is the fun part,working with these guys is always a blast...
Mike Logan on keys has worked with such heavy hitters as The Staple singers,Herbie Hancock,Joe Sample,Gene Chandler,Will Downing, just to name a few.
Lamar Jones bass guitar arguably one of the best in Chicago without a doubt the best I've ever worked with.
Joe Rendone percussion again I've been blessed to be able to work with this caliber of musician.
Rick Gherinbeck keys, Mike Levin sax and flute, Craig Sunkin trombone, and Clyde Davis on drums all great musicians without a doubt the very best Chicago has to offer).
Ella is a masterpiece and a great tribute to the first lady of Jazz !
And a few words about the vocalists you use such as Carla Prather,Pete
Jericho,Michelle Thomas etc (Carla Prather is the vocalist that's worked with me the longest shes a beast in the lab,she can literally write a great song in ten minutes, Peter Jerico is an amazing vocalist/ songwriter/arranger/ he's unreal in the vocal booth his voice is almost angelic, and last but not least Michelle Thomas is a great jazz vocalist she's new to the camp but dont sleep she's on for real.
Dr Bob Jones the UK House/jazz DJ says you are Chicago's greatest
Undiscovered secret ! Not for much longer I don’t Think J
How many years have you being doing the Miami parties ? ( I've been doing Miami parties for awhile now and it's always fun).
Do you have a current top 10 Vick Lavender joints in the clubs? ( Not any in order).
"After the rain"/ Antonio Ocasio
"Real thing"/ Melchyor A feat M.J White/ Louis Benedette mix
"Angel" /Anthony Nicholson /Vick Lavenders V.L.E mix unreleased.
"Celebration"/ DeJay Cease /Vick Lavenders V.L.E mix
"Harmony" /Joe Clausell
"Into my life"/ E.O.L mix
"Afterparty for two"/ Vick Lavender feat R.J Green/ Man -X sunset nights mix.
"We are on"/Blaze/ sublevel mix
"Kickin up dust"/ Peven Everett
"Delicious"/ Jose Carretes
I know i left off some great records so please forgive me if i forget anything!
What are ten records that have influenced you most ? (Once again this is hard but I'll try).
Thousand finger man / Candino
Jazz Carnival / Ayzmuth
Fragile / Sting
Welcome to the pleasuredome / Frankie goes to Hollywood
Harmony / Joe Clausell
Blazin / Blaze
Sweet n sour / The Crusaders
So may it secretly begain / Pat Metheny
Madien Voyage / Chico Hamilton
Rocket Love / Stevie Wonder
That was very difficult!
What are your plans for the future? ( Just continue making good records and branching off into more worldly rythems,probably some rock tracks more of the alternative vibe i'm a huge Smiths fan so thats on my radar as well.

Many thanks to Vick for those insights more from Chicago soon.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Colin, Loved the interview with Chicago House legend Vick Lavender.The man can do no wrong & I support every release of his through my Midnight Mix show on Solar radio.The man is a genius & his new track "The L.O.V.E. Song" is pure orchestrated magic. Will see you at the upcoming weekender in Blackpool in Jan...Chapter 8, can't wait.Take care soulbrother..Alan Powell