Blending musical styles into something cohesive, accessible and progressive is never an easy task. It requires a delicate touch. It requires you to look forward even as you draw from the past. And beyond knowledge and soulful execution, there is the audience to consider, waiting to be connected and aroused. New York City street-beat auteur, DJ LOGIC (aka Jason Kibler) and his crew (aka Project Logic) create modern urban soundscapes from a pallet rich in blues, jazz, soul and hip-hop. In a rare treat for Spokane audiences, Project Logic will perform an all-ages show at the Big Dipper next Thursday night.
As a teen coming of age in the Bronx in the early '80s, Kibler was there to bear witness to the rise of hip-hop. At age 14, he began spinning himself and collecting records of all sounds and styles.
"It was always just a part of my blood," says Logic of the early hip-hop movement. "My drinking water."
He rapidly rose to prominence as a DJ at house parties all over the Bronx and, soon, Queens and Manhattan as well.
"I grew up in the projects," he says, "and was the only kid that had turntables. So by default, I became the house DJ for all the parties -- graduations, school dances, birthdays, everything."
Kibler's frequent house gigs led to his involvement with Eye and I, a Manhattan group seeking to fuse hip-hop with rock (a pretty revolutionary idea in 1989). Eye and I -- with the newly-dubbed "DJ Logic" on twin turntables -- spent a year touring with Living Color, during which time Kibler formed a close bond with LC guitarist, Vernon Reid.
After the dissolution of Eye and I, Logic simmered in the Manhattan scene for the next few years, playing with Reid (in his post-Living Color group, My Science Project), experimenting with jazz and developing his improvisational skills. He soon formed yet another musical collaboration with eclectic avant-jazz legends Medeski, Martin and Wood, who tapped into Logic's compositional and mixing skills on the trio's 1998 release, Combustication. Logic then joined MMW on the road, a move that would only heighten the buzz forming around him.
The modest and ever-reluctant Logic finally succumbed to the notion of forming his own group in early 1999 with former Eye and I members Melvin Gibbs and Skoota Warner. Project Logic was born, and with the help of Reid, Medeski, Billy Martin, Chris Wood, Marc Ribot and a host of others, the collective released a self-titled disc to widespread critical acclaim.
Logic's spanking new follow-up recording, The Anomaly, is atmospheric and richly textured, invoking ground-level street life and fantastic urban vistas -- part Atlantic R & amp;B, part Sly and the Family Stone, part What's Goin' On-era Marvin Gaye, part Miles Davis and part Grandmaster Flash. Sax and flute drift in and out like a cool breeze on a sweltering night, Hammond organ and Clavinet provide the blues-y underpinning. There's room for vibes and violin, dabbles in dub and even opera (a "hip-hopera"?) in Logic's generous sonic stew. Guest artists Reid and Medeski once more lend a hand, rotating in and out of the fluid, spacious and sophisticated groove. It's positive and enlightening. It works.
Of the new album, Logic says, "It doesn't really fit into any real definition of DJ culture or music, and people are always telling me they have a hard time describing it. The name says it all. Don't try and figure it out."
No mere vinyl jockey or wax manipulator, Logic (as The Anomaly's 15 tracks seem to prove) is a skilled composer and bandleader -- a musician first and a DJ second.
"Every good DJ has got his or her thing that makes them unique. I like to think my thing is just playing live music with real musicians, being a part of the band and being a good listener."
As Logic takes house, hip-hop and jazz in directions explored by few others, his alter ego remains rooted in the Bronx, a product of the urban experience with close ties to friends and family. "The projects," he says. "My band, my home, my present, my past."
DJ Logic and Project Logic play with guests Upper Class Racket at the Big Dipper on Thursday, May 31, at 8 pm. Tickets: $10, advance; $12, at the door. Tickets are available at Moon Shadow, House of Chaos, Zumies, Spirit Skateboards and 4000 Holes. Call: 325-1914.