For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein tells us about the three New Music Nights we hosted for New Music Seminar from July 21 to July 23 in 1993. Be sure to catch music from some of the great artists we presented after the jump! And as always, feel free to share with us your favorite memories from these nights and of these artists!
The first night of the New Music Seminar we presented under our Groove Academy name. We held it at the New Music Café, which later came to be known as the Canal Room.
Weldon Irvine was on the bill. He was a very well respected funk and soul artist from the 60s and 70s, was Nina Simone’s musical director in the 1960s, and co-wrote “Young, Gifted, & Black.” He also put out a number of very influential albums in the 1970s on RCA, which were heavily sampled and were very, very rare.
I met him when he came to the Giant Step club in 1991 at the Village Gate and introduced himself to me; I was totally blown away – I didn’t even know he was still alive! At that point, he’d been putting out music under the name Master Wel with his own band. Also important to note is that he trained a lot of the great funk and soul musicians who came out of Jamaica, Queens in the 1970s, like Marcus Miller, Don Blackman. In fact, Don Blackman was in his band.
After we met, I was also able to facilitate Weldon leading Dana Bryant’s band for a European tour they ended up doing together.
Also performing that night was Get Set V.O.P. They were a band signed to Polydor Records, and included Mark Batson, who has become a very famous producer now. Dana Bryant, who we’d just signed to Warner Brothers Records, was on the bill as well. The show was headlined by Cooly’s Hot Box, who were a New York band signed to Payday Records and featured Victor Axelrod and John Christian Ulrich.
The next night was Thursday at Irving Plaza. We held the event as Giant Step in association with Vibrations Magazine, which you could call a Swiss version of Straight, No Chaser. On that bill were Takagi Kan & S.D.P. from Major Force in Tokyo, Sens Unik, who were a Swiss live hip-hop unit, and Jamalski, who was one of our residents at Giant Step and had been signed to Sony. Jhelisa Anderson and the Outside made their US debut that night – Outside was the band with Matthew Cooper and Jhelisa had just put out an amazing record for Dorado called Friendly Pressure. The Groove Collective, who we’d recently also signed to Warner Brothers, headlined that night. 1993 was the year we signed all the artists we were managing to Warner Brothers, so this night was a celebration of sorts.
The final night we hosted at SOB’s as Groove Academy in association with Straight, No Chaser – the groove and jazz bible from the UK. Sunchilde played as did Gumbo, an Atlanta based band that included some members from Arrested Development, and Repercussions, another band we managed and just signed to Warner Brothers. James “Holy Goof” Lavelle DJed that night – he had just started Mo’Wax Records at the time. The headliner was JTQ – the James Taylor Quartet out of the UK who did an amazing organ set.
It was a great time to introduce new music; the New Music Seminar provided us a wonderful platform to present the best of the music scene in the US and around the world.