"As Mood II Swing, production duo Lem Springsteen and John Ciafone became one of the most in-demand remixers in the late ’90s. The duo’s production career began modestly, however. After a failed attempt at R&B, the two turned to house music. Early productions such as Sylvano’s "Helpless" and Wall of Sound’s "Critical" were a step in the right direction, as were releases such as "I Need a Bitch" for Cutting and "Searchin’" for Groove On, but it was the duo’s remixes of Ultra Naté’s "Free" for Strictly Rhythm that struck gold. The song became a huge hit and soon Mood II Swing was remixing big-name producers like BT ("Remember") and King Britt ("The Reason") as well as the next Ultra Naté single, "Found a Cure," which also became a huge hit record around the world. Then, as a testament to the duo’s success, the New York-based Nervous label dug up some old, forgotten productions by the duo and released them as Mood II Swing’s Nervous Tracks."
"Keyboard virtuoso Jackie Mittoo was among the true legends of reggae — a founding member of the Skatalites and an extraordinarily prolific songwriter, he was perhaps most influential as a mentor to countless younger performers, primarily through his work as the musical director at the famed Studio One. Born Donat Roy Mittoo in Browns Town, Jamaica on March 3, 1948, he began playing keyboards at the age of four, and was rarely far from a piano through his teen years, performing professionally in groups including the Vagabonds and the Vikings. He frequently skipped school to play with the house band at nearby Federal Studios, and it was there that he met producer Coxsone Dodd, who recruited Mittoo for recording sessions when the scheduled pianist failed to appear on time. While attending Kingston College, he began jamming with fellow student Augustus Pablo, and they eventually formed a trio — the Jackie Mitree — which performed his original compositions.
By 1962, Mittoo was earning attention across the island for his work in the band the Sheiks, one of Jamaica’s most sought-after club attractions. Despite rechristening themselves the Cavaliers Orchestra, their popularity continued to soar without missing a beat. When Dodd opened Studio One in Kingston in 1963, he tapped Mittoo to serve as musical director; in the years to follow he played on virtually every disc the studio produced, arranging much of the material and helping develop new songs until they were sufficiently polished to meet standards. By the early months of 1964, he set about forming a new band with Studio One session regulars Tommy McCook, Lloyd Brevette, and Lester Sterling, as well as the Cavaliers’ Lloyd Knibb and Johnny Moore. Dubbing themselves the Skatalites, they were to become the quintessential ska band of the period; also featuring the legendary trombonist Don Drummond, the group lasted just 14 months — from June 1964 to August 1965 — but their influence on music worldwide remains incalculable.
After the Skatalites split, Mittoo began a solo career, scoring a major hit with his rendition of the Heptones’ “Fatty Fatty.” The instrumental smash “Ram Jam” followed in 1967, and resulted in a series of instrumental LPs, among them In London, Evening Time, Keep On Dancing, Now, and Macka Fat. At the same time, Mittoo continued his relentless pace at Studio One — according to the terms of his basic arrangement with Dodd, he received payment upon delivering five new rhythms a week, which over the years resulted in literally thousands of compositions which he both produced and arranged. Among Mittoo’s greatest contributions of the mid- to late ’60s were “Darker Shade of Black” (the basis for Frankie Paul’s “Pass the Tu Sheng Peng”), Freddie McGregor’s “Bobby Babylon,” Alton Ellis’ “I’m Still in Love with You,” the Cables’ “Feel Like Jumping” and the rocksteady anthem “Baby Why,” and Marcia Griffiths’ first hit. In 1970, his “Peanie Wallie” was also versioned by the Wailers, becoming the hit “Duppy Conqueror.”
Mittoo relocated from Jamaica to Toronto, Ontario in 1968, one of many reggae performers who found a home among the clubs lining the city’s Yonge Street area. He returned to Kingston regularly, however, and was closely aligned with Dodd and Studio One throughout the decades to follow. In Toronto, Mittoo also accepted a day job working for the Canadian Talent Library, an organization which worked to ensure that a sufficient amount of Canadian music was broadcast over national radio airwaves. By 1972, he had lived there for four years, and as such, his work became qualified as “Canadian content,” so for the CTL he recorded the album Reggae Magic, which launched the hit ‘Wish Bone.” During the mid-‘70, Mittoo also traveled to England to record a series of LPs with Bunny Lee; during the next decade, he worked regularly with Sugar Minott as well. In 1989, Mittoo joined the reunited Skatalites, but health problems soon forced him to bow out; he died of cancer on December 16, 1990.”
"Rick Wade was born in small-town western Michigan, less than an hour from Chicago’s South Side. In the mid ’80s, while studying at the University of Michigan, Wade gained his first gigs spinning deep underground house at the Nectarine Ballroom, the venue where Jeff "The Wizard" Mills was also making his name, for techno rather than for house. Simultaneously, Wade maintained a successful mix show on WCBN named "Journey To The Land of House." It was a huge success, as were his subsequent gigs at clubs in and around Detroit. So much so that, by ‘93, Wade was able to build his own studio and form a label, Harmonie Park. Wade has released his textured brand of house not only on his own label but also on the likes of Trackmode, Moods and Grooves, ATC, M3, Elevate, Chord 44/Container, and Out Of The Box."
"Glenn Underground is one of the deepest of the deep house producers, following Larry Heard’s classic Chicago tracks with his own earthy grooves, more closely aligned to the spiritual tones of disco than even contemporary house music. In fact, his bootleg remix of the prototype disco single — Donna Summer’s "I Feel Love" with production by Giorgio Moroder — is virtually a necessity in the crates of house DJs. The head Underground has recorded for nu-school Chicago label Cajual/Relief (as GU) plus Europeans like Peacefrog, DJAX-Up-Beats, SSR, and Guidance. He often watched his uncle’s band practice while growing up in Chicago, and began playing with the group’s keyboard, a Fender Rhodes. He began DJing and also started producing tracks on tape as early as 1991 to mix in at his gigs.
One of the first was a cut-up version of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” which exploded in Chicago’s clubland and impressed Cajual Records label-head Cajmere enough to begin releasing Underground’s tracks. The label eventually issued more than a dozen GU singles and EPs during 1995-1996, even while Underground recorded several singles and his first full-length, 1996’s Atmosfear, for the British Peacefrog label. His 1997 Secrets of CVO EP for Guidance expanded his ’70s influences with clean minimalist fusion-funk; the track “House of Blues” even featured a solo by guitarist Stevie Israel. The collection The Jerusalem EP’s appeared on Peacefrog that same year, with a great variety of sounds from Detroit techno to deep funk and house. Underground had already debuted his collective the Strictly Jaz Unit with longtime friends Boo Williams, Brian Harden, Tim Harper, and Cei-Bei; the group released the LP Future Parables for London’s Defender Records. An Underground solo release, A Story of Deepness, followed in 1999. Underground and Williams also run Strictly Jaz Productions.”
"Growing up outside the Chicago area in neighboring Michigan, Rick Wade became fascinated with the city’s radio stations at an early age, taking an instant liking to artists such as Al Green and Isaac Hayes along with the disco sounds of labels such as Salsoul that received substantial airplay. By the early ’80s, Wade began spinning records at parties, slowly transforming into a talented DJ while simultaneously furthering his musical interests. Then as a student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, he DJed at the University’s radio station, WCBN, where he pioneered the station’s first show dedicated to house music. It was during this period, at the end of the 1980s, alongside other electronic dance music DJ artists such as Ectomorph’s Brendan Gillen, that he began producing his own tracks. A few years later in 1993, Wade began his own house label, Harmonie Park, followed by a booty bass label, Bass Force."
"Donna Summer’s title as the "Queen of Disco" wasn’t mere hype — she was one of the very few disco performers to enjoy a measure of career longevity, and her consistent chart success was rivaled in the disco world only by the Bee Gees. Summer was certainly a talented vocalist, trained as a powerful gospel belter, but then again, so were many of her contemporaries. Of major importance in setting Summer apart were her songwriting abilities and her choice of talented collaborators in producers/songwriters Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, which resulted in a steady supply of high-quality (and, often, high-concept) material. But what was more, few vocalists could match the sultry, unfettered eroticism Summer brought to many of her best recordings, which seemed to embody the spirit of the disco era perfectly. The total package made Summer the ultimate disco diva, one of the few whose star power was even bigger than the music.
Summer was born LaDonna Andre Gaines on December 31, 1948, and grew up in Boston’s Mission Hill section. Part of a religious family, she first sang in her church’s gospel choir, and as a teenager performed with a rock group called the Crow. After high school, she moved to New York to sing and act in stage productions, and soon landed a role in a German production of Hair. She moved to Europe around 1968-1969, and spent a year in the German cast, after which she became part of the Hair company in Vienna. She joined the Viennese Folk Opera, and later returned to Germany, where she settled in Munich and met and married Helmut Sommer, adopting an Anglicized version of his last name. Summer performed in various stage musicals and worked as a studio vocalist in Munich, recording demos and background vocals. Her first solo recording was 1971’s “Sally Go ‘Round the Roses,” but success would not come until 1974, when she met producers/songwriters Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte while working on a Three Dog Night record. The three teamed up for the single “The Hostage,” which became a hit around Western Europe, and Summer released her first album, Lady of the Night, in Europe only. In 1975, the trio recorded “Love to Love You Baby,” a disco-fied reimagining of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin’s lush, heavy-breathing opus “Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus.” Powered by Summer’s graphic moans, “Love to Love You Baby” became a massive hit in Europe, and drew the attention of Casablanca Records, which put the track out in America. It climbed to number two on the singles charts, and became a dance-club sensation when Moroder remixed the track into a 17-minute, side-long epic on the LP of the same name.
In the wake of “Love to Love You Baby,” albums (as opposed to just singles) became an important forum for Summer and her producers. The 1976 follow-up Love Trilogy contained another side-long suite in “Try Me (I Know We Can Make It Work),” and demonstrated Moroder and Bellotte’s growing sophistication as arrangers with its lush, sweeping strings. Four Seasons of Love, released later in the year, was a concept album with one track dedicated to each season, and 1977’s I Remember Yesterday featured a variety of genre exercises. Despite the album’s title, it produced the most forward-looking single in Summer and Moroder’s catalog, the monumental “I Feel Love.” Eschewing the strings and typical disco excess, “I Feel Love” was the first major pop hit recorded with an entirely synthesized backing track; its lean, sleek arrangement and driving, hypnotic pulse laid the groundwork not only for countless Euro-dance imitators, but also for the techno revolution of the ’80s and ’90s. It became Summer’s second Top Ten hit in the U.S., and she followed it with Once Upon a Time, another concept album, this one retelling the story of Cinderella for the disco era.
Summer’s albums were selling well, bolstered by her popularity in the dance clubs, and she was poised to become a major pop hitmaker as well. Her acting turn in the 1978 disco-themed comedy Thank God It’s Friday produced another hit in “Last Dance,” which won her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal (as well as an Oscar for songwriter Paul Jabara). Doubtlessly benefiting from the added exposure, the double-LP set Live and More became Summer’s first number one album later that year. It featured one side of new studio material, including a disco cover of the psychedelic pop epic “MacArthur Park” that became her first number one pop single early the next year. Her 1979 double-LP Bad Girls featured more of her songwriting contributions than ever, and went straight to number one, as did the lusty singles “Bad Girls” and the rock-oriented “Hot Stuff,” which made Summer the first female artist ever to score three number one singles in the same calendar year. Her greatest-hits package On the Radio also topped the charts, the first time any artist had ever hit number one with three consecutive double LPs; the newly recorded title track became another hit, and Summer’s duet with Barbra Streisand, “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough),” became her fourth number one single.
At the peak of her success, Summer decided to leave Casablanca, and became the first artist signed to the new Geffen label. Sensing that the disco era was coming to a close, Summer attempted to modify her style to include more R&B and pop/rock on her first Geffen album, 1980’s The Wanderer; the album and its title track were both hits. Not wanting to alienate her core audience, Summer returned to pure dance music on an attempted follow-up; however, Geffen deemed I’m a Rainbow not worthy of release (it was finally issued in 1996). Instead, Summer ended her collaboration with Moroder and Bellotte and teamed up with Quincy Jones for 1982’s Donna Summer. “Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)” was a significant hit, but none of its follow-ups did very well. With producer Michael Omartian, Summer moved back into post-disco dance music and urban R&B with 1983’s She Works Hard for the Money; its title track was a smash and became a feminist anthem of sorts. However, with her career momentum slowing, it also marked the end of Summer’s prime. Despite winning a gospel Grammy for “Forgive Me,” Summer’s 1984 follow-up Cats Without Claws flopped, as did the 1987 comeback effort All Systems Go. Hiring the British production team of Stock, Aitken & Waterman, Summer scored her last major success with the 1989 Top Ten single “This Time I Know It’s for Real,” from the album Another Place & Time; around the same time, she began denouncing her earlier, “sinful” disco material. 1991’s lackluster, urban-styled Mistaken Identity effectively killed her career momentum, and none of her new ’90s albums produced that elusive hit. However, she did make some noise on the dance charts with “Melody of Love,” from the excellent 1994 retrospective Endless Summer, and reunited with Moroder for the 1997 non-LP single “Carry On,” which won the inaugural Grammy for Best Dance Recording. Summer subsequently signed a deal with Sony, which primed her for re-establishment with the 1999 greatest-hits live album VH1 Presents: Live and More Encore!; it featured the new song “I Will Go With You (Con Te Partiro),” which had some success on the dance charts. The energetic and eclectic Crayons, her first proper studio album since Mistaken Identity, was released on the Burgundy label in 2008.”
"Not nearly as talked about and analyzed as Moodymann, his key supporter, percussionist/producer Andrés nonetheless built an extremely respectable catalog of downtempo house productions throughout the late ’90s and early 2000s. Before issuing a self-titled full-length for Mahogani in 2003, he scattered a number of 12" releases for KDJ and Moods & Grooves. Andrés is also known as DJ Dez, and has released tracks under that alias on Hipnotech, in addition to collaborations with Slum Village."
"As a DJ and producer Shem McCauley AKA Slacker has a history spanning numerous musical genres and a diverse checklist of fans throughout the business.
Originally known as DJ Streets Ahead, Shem was one of the pioneers of the UK Hip Hop scratch scene, playing alongside the likes of Tim Westwood and picking up production and remix credits beside James Brown, Roxanne Shante and Public Enemy. As a student in Brighton, England, he established various sound systems DJing alongside fellow South Coast boys Norman Cook and Carl Cox. Production success followed first as Nation 12 with “Listen to the Drummer”, and then as Ramp (alongside musician and producer Simon Rogers), with the singles “Rock the Discotek” and “Stomp” - both becoming club classics. As Ramp, Shem and Simon also remixed over 80 records during this period, for artists as diverse as Sister Sledge, Armand Van Helden, Lightening Seeds and Boy George.
Next, Shem created a hybrid of his original funk roots with more contemporary house sounds under the moniker of Slacker. The Slacker single “Scared” re-wrote the rule book on progressive house, a haunting anthem with enough funk to rock any dance floor. A record deal with XL Records followed and “Scared” along with follow-up single “Your Face” went top 40 in the UK and achieved major international success.
On the crest of this wave, Slacker established a live show and heavy touring alongside label mates The Prodigy ensued. It was while touring that Shem rediscovered his love of DJing, and once again he hit the road with record box and headphones. He has been criss-crossing the globe ever since, enjoying residencies in such far flung places as Groovejet in Miami, Orbit in Lima Peru, and Fierce in Hong Kong, and earning platinum helpings of air miles throughout the world, especially in the U.S and Asia.
During this period Shem successfully juggled his travelling with further productions, ably assisted by studio partner Simon Rogers. A slew of remixes, for artists such as Prodigy, Moby, Junkie XL and Adamski made the Slacker sound one of the most respected in the business. Eager to develop their release schedule, the decision was taken to launch Slacker’s own label, Jukebox in the Sky, and the singles came thick and fast.
Shem moved to Thailand two years ago in search of fresh musical inspiration, and the album “Start A New Life” is the result of his journey. The album heralds a new direction for Shem, but the unmistakable Slacker sound remains.
Shem passed away in Bangkok on 23rd January 2012. His funeral was held there on Thursday 2nd February.”
"Pianist and composer Ramsey Lewis has been a major figure in contemporary jazz since the late 1950s, playing music with a warm, open personality that’s allowed him to cross over to the pop and R&B charts. Lewis was born in Chicago, Illinois on May 27, 1935, and was introduced to music by his father, who directed the choir at a local church and enjoyed the music of Duke Ellington and Art Tatum. Lewis began studying the piano when he was four years old, and was soon accompanying the choir at Sunday services. At the age of 15, he joined a jazz combo called the Cleffs, who played at parties and dances. Lewis was interested in a leaner, more bebop-oriented sound, and when the group splintered after several members joined the military, he formed the Ramsey Lewis Trio with two other former Cleffs, bassist Eldee Young, and percussionist Redd Holt. The trio became a fixture on the Chicago jazz scene, and they were signed to a deal with Chess Records, releasing their first album, Ramsey Lewis & His Gentlemen of Jazz, in 1956. Lewis and his trio continued to record and tour steadily over the years, building a sizable audience among jazz fans, but their career received a serious boost in 1965, when they recorded a swinging version of Dobie Gray’s hit "The In Crowd" at a gig in Washington, D.C. Chess released the track as a single, and it became a sizable pop hit, earning Lewis his first gold record, as well as a Grammy award for Best Jazz Performance. As Lewis’ star rose, he returned to the pop charts in 1966 with versions of "Hang on Sloopy" and "Wade in the Water." Meanwhile, Young and Holt left Lewis’ trio to form their own group, Young-Holt Unlimited, and the pianist hired a new rhythm section, Cleveland Eaton on bass and Maurice White on drums. In 1970, White resigned to form his own group, and Morris Jennings signed on as the trio’s new percussionist. Lewis continued to record for Chess until 1972, when he moved to Columbia Records, and as his music developed a more contemporary groove, White’s group, Earth, Wind & Fire (also on Columbia), was beginning to enjoy considerable success on the R&B charts. White produced Lewis’ 1974 album Sun Goddess, in which he experimented with electronic keyboards for the first time, and several members of EWF played on the sessions; it became a major crossover hit and took Lewis to the upper ranks of the smooth jazz/fusion scene. Lewis would continue to record R&B-influenced material through the ’70s, but continued to explore his roots in more traditional jazz sounds as well as Latin rhythms. In 1983, he went into the studio with Eldee Young and Redd Holt again for the album Reunion; in 1984, he collaborated with Nancy Wilson on The Two of Us; in 1988, he recorded with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra for the album A Classic Encounter, and in 1989, Lewis and Dr. Billy Taylor cut a set of piano duets, We Meet Again. In 1992, Lewis signed with the successful jazz label GRP Records, and in 1995, he launched the side project Urban Knights, in which he collaborated with a handful of successful crossover jazz stars, including Grover Washington, Jr., Earl Klugh, and Dave Koz. In 1997, Lewis added disc jockey to his résumé, hosting a popular show on Chicago’s WNUA-FM that ran until 2009; the show went into syndication in 2006 under the name Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis, and is still on the air. In 2005, Lewis looked back on his roots in gospel music with the album With One Voice, which earned him the Stellar Gospel Music Award for Best Gospel Instrumental Album. In 2007, he was commissioned to write a jazz ballet for the Joffrey Ballet Company, and "To Know Her …" debuted at Highland Park, Illinois’ Ravina Music Festival, where Lewis is artistic director of the festival’s jazz series, and helped found their Jazz Mentor Program. Lewis has also written several pieces for string ensemble and orchestra that have premiered at Ravina; highlights were featured on the 2009 album Songs from the Heart: Ramsey Plays Ramsey, his first release from Concord Records. In addition to his work as a performer, composer, educator, and disc jockey, Lewis has received five honorary doctorate degrees, won the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Master Award in 2007, and is one of the few noted jazz artists to carry the Olympic Torch, having briefly escorted the flame as it passed through Chicago en route to the 2002 Winter Games."
"Singer, song writer and music producer Yoshida Minako was born on April 7, 1953 in Saitama. In 1969, whilst she was attending her senior high school, she met Hosono Haruomi, later known for his work as the bassist of Yellow Magic Orchestra, and songwriter Matsumoto Taka who encouraged her to write a song for the first time. A few months later she founded the duo Puff with Noji Toshiyuki (Blues Creation), in which she played piano. The duo later appeared in a school festival and they delivered a great performance.
A year later, even though the duo disbanded soon after, they held a few concerts. She married for the first time in 1972, but her marriage only lasted a year. The following year, the song Kaze toshi was produced by Torio Record label. The label also released Yoshida’s first solo album Tobira no fuyu a little while later. Through the remainder of the seventies, Yoshida Minako released a number of albums and had several tours, which included supporting her band member Yamashita Tatsurou with his solo projects. In 1976, she founded the band FLYIN’ KID SCREW and also toured with them.
The following decade ran similarly: she released albums such as MONSTERS IN TOWN (which had a funk tune and was released worldwide in 1982) and the limited edition BELLS (limited to 3,000 copies). She also held several tours and worked together with other artists to produce their work. In addition, she married her long-time partner Seita Akira in 1984.
The nineties was a decade of production for Yoshida Minako. Even in the spring of 1990 she produced her drummer Yamaki Hideo’s album TENTELLETSQUE before recording her own, titled gazer, in New York. On December 5 of the same year she gave a Christmas concert at Tokyo GLOBE. In the next few years she focused once again on the production of other artists and in July 1993 she performed at the MEET THE WORLD event organized by Osaka FM802. This marked the revival of her own solo activities and she began holding lives in Tokyo and Osaka in December. The year 1995 saw a number of concerts around Tokyo, the release of her single Koe wo kikasete, three albums, including some re-issues, and the release of her first live VHS. The next few years leading up to the turn of the millennium were marked by outside productions and tours, such as the BEWITCH~Club Circuit Tour 1997. Furthermore, her activities with the jazz project PONTA BOX increased and included more concerts and an album release.
The years 2000 and 2001 were full of more tours and events. In July 2000 there was also a live held in the US. In addition to her activities with PONTA BOX there were collaborations such as YOSHIDA MINAKO & THE BAND and YOSHIDA MINAKO & THE 4 GIFTS. In the summer of 2002, she released her first single under avex io, after her long-standing releases via MGM, Victor and Universal. The release of TEMPTATION followed a number of radio appearances and October saw a promotional campaign for her new album, Stable. She went on tour with THE BAND again in November and continued giving concerts.
The following years followed in the same fashion as the previous with several jazz and blues events, releases and more tours taking place. In the meantime she also continued to produce and support other artists. For example, in 2003 she worked on the coupling track Nocturne -RAIN SONG- from BUCK-TICK’s maxi-single Gensou no hana.
In March 2012, Yoshida came to Paris, France, together with composer and guitarist Watanabe Kazumi where they performed songs from their 2008 album NOWADAYS at the JAZZ IN JAPAN festival.
As for now Yoshida Minako hasn’t shown signs of tiring and will surely keep the music world on its toes with her own works, collaborations and concerts.”