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Small club, big names, great music. It’s not rocket science but it is a formula that has made Bar Rumba one of London’s best loved venues. Over the past decade, the likes of Louie Vega, Carl Cox, Eric Morillo, Todd Terry, Bryan Gee, Dimitri from Paris, Norman Jay, DJ MARKY, Osunlade, Lottie, Yousef, RONI SIZE, Harvey, DJ Sneak, Pete Heller, Derrick Carter have all played to 450 lucky people inside the small Shaftesbury Avenue club. Musical trends have come and gone, but Bar Rumba’s forward thinking music policy has ensured its survival.
Over the past ten years numerous nights have established themselves as the essential destination for a night out in London. Rumba in 2003 is in a state of rude health - both THIS! and Rumba Pa’Ti celebrate ten years sterling service this year, Movement continues to revolutionise drum & bass, Garage City remains “The People’s Choice” and Bubbling Over has become one of the country’s most successful urban music nights. But this compilation also pays tribute to those nights no longer with us - Tayo’s incredible Friction, BBE’s own Night People and Kenny Hawkes’ brilliant Wednesday night Space.
We begin with Wesley Music’s ‘RSL’, an exquisite Latin house offering from Manchester’s ‘Players’ label. One hell of a build-up leads to a horn backed, joyous conclusion before a percussion filled breakdown to die for. Blessed with an anthemic choral hook, this is the kind of track you’d expect from Miami rather than Manchester.
Up next, a different genre but still very much in the Latin quarter.. ‘Cumbia Dominique’ is a horn-led groover with an intricate piano interlude, and a favourite at Tuesday nights Rumba Pa’Ti.
Changing genre once again, we now enter the drum & bass arena. For the past six years, Thursday’s have been rammed signalling the unofficial start to the weekend thanks to Movement’s sexy drum & bass. Resident DJ and co-founder Bryan Gee discovered Roni Size and his ‘It’s Jazzy’ remains one of the classics. Movement was also responsible for broadening the drum & bass spectrum. They were responsible for the introduction of Brazilian flavoured drum & bass and the likes of DJ Marky and Patife would never have seen these shores without Movement’s support. This broad church approach has certainly benefited Danny C & Addiction whose ‘Feel It’ is included here.
BBE have been involved with Bar Rumba for years and their Night People residency is sorely missed. From their Beat Generation series comes a track from will.i.am, producer and DJ from LA hip hop outfit Black Eyed Peas. ‘Lay me Down’ is quirky future jazz with the beautiful vocals of Terry Dexter layered over moog niceness and heavy fender rhodes rhythms.
Friction has now also left the building. Tayo, the man behind it, lured Ashley Beedle from XPress 2 and Mark Woolford to record for Mob Recordings. Under their Dynamic Shadows alias the duo have produced a chunky breaks beast for proper speaker damage. Complete with cinematic strings, laconic vocals and alien-sex sound-effects, ‘Lowriders’ is an absolute masterpiece.
Space was another Rumba night that burned brightly and is now no more. Together with Luke Soloman, Kenny Hawkes spent seven years playing “good music all the time” at the midweek residency. ‘Union Street’ certainly fitted that remit it is deep melodic house that’s catchier than SARS.
Another infectious groove comes from BB Boogie with Daz I Kue and Cliff Scott from Bugz in the Attic on the remix. A re-make of Roy Ayers’ rare groove classic, ‘Tell Him’ is a slice of sassy future soul with hefty house backing. Featuring a dynamic vocal performance from Andrea Clark and Twin Rems, this is utterly irresistible.
Kenny Hawkes’ remake of seminal club classic Inner City’s ‘Big Fun.’ Fattened drums and synth stabs update Kevin Saunderson’s pioneering production but Hawkes has ensured that the trac will continue to rock dancefloors for many years to come.
From two old favourites to a duo inspired by a legendary club. East end twins Bobby and Steve were so impressed by Larry Levan’s Paradise Garage, that they established their own Garage City nights. Now in its twelfth year Garage City is the longest running soulful house night in the capital. Higher Love is typical of the pair’s musical selections - an epic vocal house stormer.
Our ten year selection concludes with a track from King Britt’s incredible‘Adventures in Lo Fi’ album. The Philadelphian producer reveals his debt to West London sounds on ‘Superstar’, a broken beat beauty, flecked with disco bass licks. Championed at the more forward thinking nights across the capital, its true home is on the Rumba dancefloor.
But Bar Rumba knows that freedom of expression goes far beyond dance music.
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