Throwback Thursday: New Music Seminar Showcase @ Sweet Jane – June 17-20, 1992

 

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For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein takes us back to the 1992 New Music Seminar series of events we held at Sweet Jane, which culminated in a huge night with Atlanta band Arrested Development.

For a period of time in the summer of 1992, Giant Step weekly relocated to a venue called Sweet Jane that is today the Jane Hotel (legend has it that that was where survivors of Titantic where brought after the fatal accident). There was a large room, which was a like an old ballroom where somebody ran a club – I don’t remember his name, but he was a shady guy at the best of times. Actually, I think his name was Guy (maybe some of the old timers can jog my memory).

Every summer in New York there used to be something called the New Music Seminar, and that year we put together four nights of Groove Academy and Giant Step shows. This was our second year putting on events during New Music Seminar – the first year we had held our events at the Village Gate and will feature that one soon in this series.

It was a pretty big undertaking putting together four nights of music. The first night we had ED O.G and da Bulldogs, a live hip-hop band called SSL, which stood for Smoking Suckers With Logic, a band called Lovehead who were a local band, and Pal Joey, the DJ who produced the track “Hot Music.”

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Throwback Thursday: The Very First ‘Giant Step’ @ SOBs – September 24, 1990

 

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As we approach the 23rd anniversary of the very first Giant Step club, it’s only fitting that we highlight the historic night for this week’s Throwback Thursday! Join our President/CEO Maurice Bernstein as he takes us back to September 24, 1990 at SOBs. Were you one of the few that were with us in those early days? Tell us what you remember!

This was the very first flyer for Giant Step. After the success of the Groove Academy shows in the summer of 1990, our goal was to set up a weekly party that focused on the jazz and dance movement that we were familiar with in London. We were very influenced by Dingwall’s Sunday party and The Wag Club, which I used to go to when I lived in London and Jonathan Rudnick (Giant Step co-founder) had visited as well.

But we didn’t want to just do a straight version of that; we wanted to bring in the elements that were fundamental to New York – one being hip-hop music – so, we decided to mix jazz and hip-hop together. However, there was very little music like that at that time – there was Tribe that was mixing jazz with some of their hip-hop and Gang Starr had just done “Jazz Thing.” It was also tough to find DJs who really knew how to play the music and make people dance, plus there weren’t really records

I ended up picking DJ Smash who I used go hear at Save The Robots, which was a famous after hours in New York in the 80′s. What I liked about Smash was his amazing music sensibility and knowledge, as well as his ability to mix anything, which is something that British DJs didn’t really have the ability to do. He was able to take original jazz records and mix them with hip-hop – exactly what we needed.

We were given Mondays by SOBs because it was a dead night for them. If I remember correctly, our original night had more people working than actual guests. Cool to note: there are in fact a few people who came to the opening who still come to Giant Step parties – Michael July is one of them. A lot of people claim to have been there in the early days, but I remember every single person that was there the first night because there weren’t that many of them.

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Throwback Thursday: Giant Step @ Mr. C’s, Los Angeles – Sep 14, 1991

 

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For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein talks about bringing our legendary Giant Step club to Los Angeles! Were you on the west coast for one of these? Let us know what you remember!

This was the debut of Giant Step Los Angeles, which we held as a bi-monthly for a few months. We teamed up with Brass – the equivalent of Giant Step in Los Angeles or our LA kindred spirits, you could say. Brass was run by Orlando Aguillen, Daz, Blackurn, and Marques Wyatt.

When we came out, we brought with us Jazzy Nice, our emcee Jamal Ski, and Richard Worth on flute – all were part of the Giant Step crew. Camella Ehlke of Triple 5 Soul acted as our fashion muse and styled everyone at the time.

It was great, and the first time I really got to see the scene in Los Angeles. We saw how positively people were responding to the music out there and realized the opportunity to grow this on a national level.

The Los Angeles crowd was a little more laid back than NYC. Another thing I remember is that everything closed so early – the party ended at 2AM. For our club in NYC, 1:30AM is when everyone would arrive – we’d open the doors at 11PM, but it wasn’t really until 1:30AM that the party would start. 1:30 to 3:30, 4AM – that was the real time to be at our party in NYC. But for this LA event, everything was pretty much winding down at 1:30AM. So, getting into the difference of the rhythm was interesting.

The overall vibe was great – great dancers, really wonderful people. I was very impressed.

Throwback Thursday: Groove Collective Live Recording Session @ Clinton Recording Studios – June 25, 1993

 

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For today’s Throwback Thursday Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein shares his memories on Groove Collective’s 1993 live recording event for their debut album. What do folks remember about these early Giant Step staples? Let us know!

Groove Collective was a band who grew out of the crew of musicians who jammed with our DJs at the Giant Step club. From there, we started managing the band and between the weekly club and their shows created a huge buzz and eventually got them signed to Reprise Records.

When it came time to put together the album, the idea was to capture the essence of Groove Collective’s live show experience since that’s what they were all about. We actually used to do shows with them every Friday at Sybarite on Wooster Street, and then moved the shows over to AKA on Houston Street where they continued the residency.

The album was recorded in three parts; we first did a live recording at the Giant Step club at Metropolis Café where the full band played with DJs Jazzy Nice and Smash and a mobile recording truck parked outside. The next day we held a live recording session at Clinton Recording Studios where we invited an audience of friends to help create the live show atmosphere. Finally, we mixed everything down, tracked it all and added overdubs at River Sound, the studio owned by Donald Fagan and Gary Katz of Steely Dan fame.

Gary Katz was instrumental in getting us signed to Reprise and produced the album, too. And Elliot Scheiner, who worked with Steely Dan and Eagles amongst other artists, mixed the album. They both did a great job of capturing the experience of a Groove Collective and Giant Step party while translating it into an album, too.