Posts Tagged ‘Tambor’

LOUIE VEGA & ANANE 15.02.14 Part I

February 26, 2014



Part 1

Black Curtain

There hang long black drapes in one corner of the room, next to the DJ stage and behind the global bazaar. 

A steady stream of bodies treks from out the curtain.

Gofers fetch drinks from the bar before they disappear back into the curtain.

A group of hourglass curves exit the curtain with glowing smiles.

Those left on the outside watch curiously.                                           

Something goes on behind those large black drapes.

You can feel the energy.

Is this some makeshift private VIP, roped off from the common soul?

Or a moon ritual?


Louie Vega Main.jpg 

Louie Vega

Always, Louie Vega brings the unadulterated soulful house music sound that capsizes at 126 beats per minute.  Foot heavy four-on-the floors slap the faces of dancers.  His sound is not for the faint.  Or for the soft of feet that prance on the tips of toes as ballerinas.  These days, ears have to be conditioned to tolerate stuttered 808’s as hamstrings have to be fully stretched to endure the wear and tear that shall soon follow.   In all, this is Louie’s tribute to his old school roots, when late 80’s house and early 90’s house ruled.  His momentum takes you back to the Devil’s Nest in the Bronx.  A time when vocal house pit the Jacksons against First Choice.  Anyone for Lynn Lockamy?  Inaya Day?  Duane Harden?  To fully understand Louie is to fully understand the sum of his parts.  Vega Records.  Roots remixes.  EOL essentials.  Fania T-shirts?  Louie is not shy to spotlight his ethos.  Louie Vega revolves around Louie’s world. He is a heavyweight in the industry, a revered leader among his peers.  When Louie speaks, people actually jot notes.    People just don’t happen to dance to Louie Vega in the mix.  They are subconsciously pulled into his black hole.  Rather or not education on the dance floor is your dogma.  You will be schooled.       


Aww, look, the darling couple sits on stage.  His body is pinned against hers.  Their body language speaks love.  She pulls out her smartphone encased in candy apple red.  “Click.”  The selfie captures two loving souls.   That’s cute.  However, the crowd is ready to experience what they dropped Gs for. 

Like a swan’s tears dropping into tranquil waters, Japanese violinist, Chieko Kinbara’s dramatics bleeds all over Josh Milan’s heartfelt “Just Like Love.”  The Timmy Regisford and Adam Rios tropical beat builds to a muddled rise.  The train is running off the tracks.  Can anyone help?  To the rescue he comes.  Where?  To the right of the stage.  His two eyes peep over three Pioneers.  His waist and upper torso bends over the CD players.  The man is dressed in a black tee and sporting his signature stingy-brim fedora.  A tattooed tribal arrow points towards his hand that turns shiny knobs, while his right hand cups a silver earphone.  His stance commands all attention.    

A few facial visages appear stunned.  Perhaps the sight of their idol standing a few feet away smacks them.  Or is it the beat?  The “oonz, oonz, oonz,” clocks at high speeds.  All courtesy of a power kick drum, hissing snares and a heart pounding bass thump.  Bodies erk and jerk.  Inquiries of confusion contort eyebrows.  Smoky vocals sing that adds additional confusion.  The beat overpowers the messenger.  Louie understands.  He adjusts the controls.  Fail.  So, two heavyweights move a monitor closer to Vega’s post for greater sound definition.  The light bulb idea works.

“I was At The Club, somewhere near the bar.” Lynn Lockamy never sounded better in surround sound.  Her accappella plays over the same sixteen counts that startled minutes earlier.  The crowd gets it.  They sing, “When I saw that man.”          

Somewhere the secular intersects the spiritual.  A juxtapose that possesses one dancer to bolt up the stage and back down stage in nanoseconds.  “Can I preach to you?”  Arms thrust into the air.  Hands beat speakers.  Mops of hair wiggle from side-to-side.  People are short of falling out in the spirit.  Whatever Louie laced this “Can I preach to you?” acapella, sets the people free.  Earlier hesitations of premature expectations are now fully abandoned.  The people melt in the hands of Louie.  The room is ripe and ready to receive. 

“Hey, hey, hey, hey.”  A familiar voice beckons from the audio’s output.  “It’s Not Over,” sings a First Choice soundclip.   The score’s highs pull to the fore, the bass drops into oblivion that leaves the mids pitched against white noise.  Orchestrated strings pull the melody back into existence.  A moody electric guitar speaks with a twang.  The disco re-edit is the Gamble and Huff produced Jackson’s “Show You The Way To Go” vs. MFSB “The Sound of Philadephia” that sucks the room right into Louie’s black hole.

Mr. Vega is eager to show off his universe.  His world is full of stars.  Louie Vega staring Duane Harden, Louie Vega staring Bucie and Louie Vega staring Julie…the list goes on and on and on.  God love him.  Louie is always staring someone. 

If Louie had to play one summative oeuvre it would be Louie Vega starring Duane Harden’s “Never Stop.”  The Sunset Ritual Version lyrically laced with positivity uplifts the room to a higher state.  When lead vocalist Duane Harden backs Cindy Mizelle to sing ”Lift You Up,” the atmosphere erupts with explosives.  Louie could pack his crates, grab his wife and make a run for the door.  The crowd would never know they were robbed. 

Thankfully, the GRAMMY award winner proves why he is the hardest working man in soulful/deep/house music and continues to drop hits.  He plays his Piano Dub of the Native Sons “City Lights.”  Don’t get too comfortable with Inaya Day yelling, “Hey, Hey.”  Louie throws a curve ball.  When the outro bass line filters to low-fi, in comes Louie’s Factory Mix Part 1 for even more hi-fidelity bass trickery.  This guy won’t even stick to playing one of his remixes: he goes in to play two of his remixes.        

A key in F-minor bumps over 125 BPMs.  Is it filler time?  Louie allows the crowd to breathe.  After all, a professional knows not to wear his or her guests out in twenty minutes.  So he cools the school with the ‘Princess of House’ on “Angels Are Watching Over Me“ his Vega Old School UN Instrumental.    

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” The ever recognizable accent of Tambor’s founding father DJ Stan Zeff announces with microphone in hand.  “Let’s give a warm Tambor welcome for the second time to….. “


Anane Vega

The force of Anane does not pull in the opposite direction but rather digs deeper into the waters that birthed her voice of ancestral soul.   Her Cape Verde, two tiny archipelagos to the left of the Motherland’s shores, roots is her narrative.  At one point growls and chirps resonates through the room.  At safer beats per minute, one dancer feels compelled to join the flock rushing center stage to lay eyes on the DJ. 

The male and female species are rarely treated to lay eyes on a Glamazon.  Let alone a Glamazon DJ.  A simple gesture as pulling her sandy blond locks back into a tail captivates the room.  The “Bem Ma Mi” singer radiates a glow that blings brighter than the ‘Rock’ gold chain hanging around her elongated neck.  Voices whisper, “Beauty is only skin deep.”  But in Anane’s case her God give beauty is layered not linear.  Not one to rest solely on her symmetrical cheekbones, the singer, DJ, wife, philanthropist and most recent entrepreneur proves she has skills.  The music she plays is self-evident, realized and afro driven.  A fact her partner-no, not Antonello Coghe-acknowledges in eye distant.  A head nod to her hubby at work provides approval for him to chime in the fun.   The two stationed at polar opposites of the mixing spectrum align their chakras into one cohesive body.  Impressive, breathtaking and sometimes all over the place is what the two display.  A husband and wife DJ tag team.  After all, Louie and Anane are house music’s Jay and Bey.      

“Flowers bloomin, mornin’ dew and the beauty seems to say…..A velvet voice sings.  “It’s a pleasure when you treasure all that’s new and true and gay.”  Rhythm and Blues lovers recognize the voice they grew up with as Luther Vandross.  Then from nowhere, Glow’s “Change of Love” goes from straight disco to proper Jersey house.  Dancing feet keep pace for the second verse.  Until a voice announces, “We gon take it back.” 

Where Anane stops:  Louie starts.  Electric synths jabs staccato punches.  The volume slowly ascends.  The ears of elders recognize the ear candy.  “Say are you happy” an angelic voice asks.  Feet stomp the floor.  Arms thrust into the air.  “Have you been down to the club that the worldly people love.”

Perhaps this Moon Ritual is not the “Club Lonely (Lonely People)” that Lil’ Louis envisioned.  Black, brown, tan, yellow, beige and peach faces dot wall to wall.  People are adorned with their spouse, people whisper amongst friends and even the single dance hand in hand.  No one appears to be lonely.

A few counts later the medley switches tides but stays true old school.  “Can You Hit It/Hit It,” a powerhouse vocal repeats.  Again the crowd goes AWOL.  “Brighter Daaaaaaayyyyy.”  Singer Dajae wails into the air for an extended frame on the Cajmere’s Underground Goodies Mix.  Lads take note a professional not only knows the right song to play at the right time but the right remix to play of the song. 

Earth People’s “Dance” floors feet and silences every criticism.  “I Got Something for your mind, your body and soul.”  A First Choice sound clip brags.  The party man does not stop there he continues throwing down classic heat from Chitown to the 5 Boroughs.  But around the corner lurks eyes that glow with fire in the dark.  A force flies from the speakers.  Knees crash onto the concrete.  Acid house spews its vengeance.   

BLACKOUT.  One dancer is stretched out between a speaker box and a railing. 





Visuals & Words by AJ Dance





February 16, 2014


A Different Energy


Through hazy vision and dim lights the stage appears as one giant schmooze fest.  Louie’s stage manager is not attentive.   People dart to rub elbows with the “Hollywood of House.”  Do you even know who Louie Vega is?- people dance on stage.  Pearly whites, handshakes and bear hugs overpower the music.  The Hollywood couple must have messaged all of their mangs and dames to hobnob onstage.  Their bleached blond bangs and soulfro frocks are completely strange, never having graced a prior Tambor.  

When Anane puts down her bedazzled gold phones she grabs a Fambor faithful for a dance.  One by one, more and more lovelies join the awesome twosome.   Onstage rumps shake in the air.  “Cerca Di Mi” never sounded so sexual.  

75AnaneCortneyDance.jpg (2) 

An unusual amount of sex straddles the air.  And the potent seduction only increases with ritual mating calls.  When Africa’s Busiswa references queens and her royal highness on the DJ Zihle acclaimed “My Name Is,” actual freaks run to the dance floor.  Wet bodies frottage.  Hips gyrate.  Groins gravitate.  Arousal is felt.  The people are molested on the dance floor…by the music. 

The energy is not all defined by sex. The smoke free zone becomes a hotbed for cancer sticks to spew venom.  Toppling off table tops, aluminum cans piss carbs and cals onto the once covered baby powdered floor.  The room reeks of sweat.  The walls perspire.  The cement floor gives way to slippery puddles. 

A voice yells over Femi Kuta’s “Truth Don Die.”  “There is a different energy in here.”

Of course, this is a Moon Ritual party. 

“Just what is a Moon Ritual?”   

A phenomenon not easily defined but worthy of experience.   

Back on the platform, myths become future folklore.  Local legendary DJs, transplants via NYC, perform an impromptu “I’ll House You,” another adlibs, “I Get Deep, I Get Deep, I Get Deep.”    

Somewhere in the ritual’s final minutes, Louie shines his spotlight back on the real stars of the night, the dozens of people still gathered on the floor, by playing Stevie Wonder’s “Another Star.”  He teases the crowd.  “Is It All Over My Face?” Fifty voices chant. “Hell Yeah.”  Loose Joints has the hanger-ons love dancing.  Louie loves “Days Like This.”  He smiles.  Then he tells the people to “Stand On The Word.” That’s funny.  Sunday morning church service is only hours away.    

All the while, Louie never utters one word into the microphone.  His voice is amplified through the music he plays, a projection that allows him to stand taller than his stature and outshine the brightest of his contemporaries.  This is the power of the Vegas, to make anyone and everyone feel like a star for the night.  From old friends to new friends.  From dancers to wallflowers.  From music makers to music breakers.  From Beverly’s hills to Georgia’s red clay.  Louie’s world is all about stars.  

Visuals and Words by AJ Dance

CHOSEN FEW DJs 21.12.13

December 22, 2013


Winter’s arrival announces sixty degree temperatures. A gust of warm air dances into a car’s rolled down window as a 10th anniversary Kenny Dope remix plays into the night’s air. While trying to find a spot to park, blinding blue beams flash in the rear windshield. “Uh oh.” One of the city’s finest, dressed in blue from head to toe, exits a newly purchased navy Ford. However, the only “protecting and serving” the law enforcer is concerned with is the scanning of license plates and the identifying of tags of two parked vehicles. The driver trying to find parking breathes a sigh of relief. For the owners of the two vehicles parked in front of a “no parking sign,” a sigh of relief will be the last thing they will utter as they discover a gift attached to their windshield. Merry Christmas from the APD.

Down the street at the events facility, fifty shades of brown wait huddled in front of a massive wooden door. Standing in the line that snakes down a ramp, conversations ensue. One dialogue stands out from the rest. A gray haired individual pushing the mid-century mark asks, “What makes a successful party?” 

The Ingredients for a Successful BANG!

One can argue that taking time off from throwing events allows for rest, recuperation and reinvention. This is one key ingredient for throwing a successful party. Nothing wears people out more than having to throw a party every week or every month. Not to mention those who feel pressured to attend every weekly and monthly event. Take, for example, the Tambor party. After a four month hiatus, the drum makes a much-anticipated return with a must-attend event.

Founder DJ Stan Zeff and right-hand man, DJ BE’s winning event formula is sought after by party promoters/event planners the world over. The two prep a musical concoction that wins over the skeptical purists and trumps the egos of naysayers. One key element that must be realized is the key of collaboration. Thereby, Tambor brilliantly teamed with one house music’s premier international networks. The Chosen Few DJs, the brainchildren headquartered in the birthplace of house music- Chicago.

Tambor’s winning formula begins with bestowing their guests with a generous heaping of southern hospitality. Be it a genuine welcome; glowing smiles, a caring hello, and a free gift; a CD, sticker or glowing tambourine, that greets guests at the two wooden doors of the facility.

A whomp, whomp, BOOM. The sound of heavy bass pulls bodies into the door. Listen and feel the beat. The one thing the people can’t deny is the clear and crisp acoustics. The sonics deliver a BANG! Pull out the earplugs, you will need them.

Two red and two silver giant orbs hanging from the ceiling add a plush holiday touch. The air is saturated with the aroma of love as Tambor-ites exchange XO. If a party has no love, the party is no success.

Already DJ BE and DJ Stan Zeff blaze the dance floor with a surround sound of furor. Together the two are unstoppable. And so this party proves as people can barely make their way up to the DJ stage without stepping on dancing sneakers or experiencing elbow jabs in the ribs.


Center stage stands Chicago’s Chosen Few ambassador, Alan King. The lawyer by day and DJ by night starts the party with a dose of jazz injected soul from Ralf Gum’s featuring vocalist Jon Pierce & trumpeter Kafele on “Never” (Louie Vega EOL Mix). Pat-ta-pat, pats and thump-di-thumps tells the dancers to form a semi-circle. The beating of live percussions kicks the party into full afro gear. Those dancing wallop their knees and their arms flail into the air without any structure or synchronization as their movements interpret the drum’s ancient language. From afro house the Chosen Few ball cap wearer segues into disco territory. Remember a little disco goes a long way. And boy does Alan deluge a heavy dosage of blue lights in the basement. The graying of hairs, receding of hairlines and the balding don’t mind. That Southside sound causes even music snubs to shake in the air, red, blue and green glowing tambourines. “Look” says one woman dressed in all black with an outstretched arm that points to the floor covered with white residue. Even the baby powder comes out on a disco jam. Attorney King steers the music reigns back into the provocative purview of South Africa’s resident Ralf Gum. This time former Tambor guest Monique Bingham sings “Take Me To My Love.” The fist-pumping Quentin Harris’ Shelter Vocal version of “Disrespectful” by Chaka Khan featuring Mary J. Blige works bodies into writhes. This house veteran knows how to work a room: after all he has been DJing for nearly four decades.


A body walks onto the stage.  The music fades.  “I didn’t know she could sing.” A voice yells from the back of the crowd. The room grows quiet. The party people are silenced. Tambor’s founding father offers a spirited introduction, “Tambor let’s give a warm welcome to Atlanta’s own…”


She shimmers in a gold and black jumper that sways over her black leggings. She bounces up and down on the heels of her black spiked boots. “Dance. 4. You.” She coos like a sexy Santa. This is the voice of the Chicago native and Tambor’s beloved, Cortney LaFloy who performs, without prior warning, her soon to be release debut on Tambor Music. The song’s producer, another Atlantan via Chicago, Steve Chi Profess stands behind the ones and twos playing music maestro. A swarm of “awws” traverse the room as digital cameras flash, videos film and happy feet dance in show of loving support. Cortney LaFloy drops the mic and dances across the DJ stage. Her live performance ignites fiyah. Promoters take note, there always has to be an element of surprise thrown into the mix. The unexpected flavor keeps the party turnt up.

Add a former recording label VP of Artist and Repertoire who has worked with Will Smith to Justin Timberlake in for success. Take one listen to the Pied Piper of RnB’s stepping anthem to hear how influential this DJ impacts the world of music. Wayne Williams is that DJ.


Where DJ Alan King played warm-up, DJ Wayne Williams appears hell bent to pick up the tempo. The sensual dialogue between a flugelhorn and a sax turns up the furnace. Shoes slip and slide. Bodies half way fall onto the slippery surface once covered with baby powder. Yes, the cement floor sweats. The unmistakable sounds of the undeniable Josh Milan’s “Thinking About Your Body” causes an uproar. Not only does a successful party don a DJ who knows what song to play at the perfect time-an art truly devoid in 21st century DJ culture-but a DJ who knows to play the perfect remix at the perfect time. Louie Vega’s Dance Ritual Mix delivers a bang to jump off any soulful house music party. As Josh’s ad-libs fades, the veteran DJ again surprises. Osunlade, the Yoruba soulster, offers “Dionne.” Ms. Warwick’s looped vocals are so heavenly, they can bounce on clouds. Suddenly, the beat bangs harder. Heart pounding four-on-the floors thump faster as Chicago house takes lead. Out come the sweat rags. Out come the pearly whites. Out come the feet that dance faster and harder. One house head hangs her chin low and bathes in the ambience of raw beats. She has a defining moment; she is gripped by the power of house music. The fifty minute adrenaline rush of Chicago house and disco house closes out on an inspirational note. “Lift Him Up” takes the spiritual saints who are in the know to church. Another key for a successful house music soiree is to have a DJ who is a DJ first, not a label owner, producer or party promoter, to heat the party up. Certainly, the Chosen Few originator, DJ Wayne Williams is more than the necessary ingredient.


Where DJ Wayne Williams drove the party into hyper drive in peek hour, DJ Terry Hunter slows the music down to a “catch your breath” tempo. A rework interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s “Supersition” is thrown in mix. Midsong the melody takes a dramatic turn into deep tech territory. Dark haunting keys steadily build wrath into a climatic shadowy mirage. The minimalist patting of drums disappears into a bottomless abyss. Dancing feet are unaware of what to expect as they try to keep pace with the two-faced tune. Don’t fret. Terry safely leads the dancers to South Africa rhythms, a place where the DJ appears more confidently exploring than his Chosen Few contemporaries. Although the T’s Box label head does tread on 120 BPMs and disco rhythms courtesy of DJ Spen’s Re-Edit of Chaka Khan’s “Live In Me,” Terry quickly returns to the Motherland where he scoops up the Princess of House, Bucie, on Louie Vega’s “Angels Are Watching Over Me.” From the heartfelt, Terry takes it old skool with a nu skool twist of Patrice Rushen’s “Haven’t You Heard.” Joey Negro’s Extended Disco Mix excites the crowd that sings “I’ve Been Looking For You.” As to pay not enough homage to Mr. Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” Terry drops the instrumental over a subtle disco count. From that moment on things get crazy and a bit hazy.


On the DJ stage DJ Alan King sports a “We Play Different” logo across his black tee, recognizable name property of an online dance music download store. DJ Wayne Williams strips his black jacket to reveal a Chosen Few tee. DJ Terry Hunter’s black Chosen Few tee sparkles with silver embroidery. Add to the mix DJ Stan Zeff who breaks up the monotony with a purple Tambor tee. There appears more brand recognition than a summer blockbuster movie. 

Thank you(s) are exchanged. There is a thank you to Tambor. There is a thank you to the Chosen Few. A historic speech is delivered. There is a group photo with the DJs. Then there is another group photo with everyone in the building. DJ Terry Hunter, the BANG remixer, appears stunned at all of the commotion. How dare anyone interrupt his DJ set? Seizing the moment he launches into a fury of guitar riffs that thrash against the brick and mortar. Dancing bodies leap high into the air before their soles crash onto the cement floor. Blurred circles bare witness. Hands are raised in praise. The gyrating of bodies appears to be high off psychedelic rhythms. A few curious railbirds scratch their heads. One DJ softly asks, “What is this finale closer of 70’s rock meets disco soul?” Shazaam displays, The Jackson 5 “I Am Love.”


There you have the successful makings of a hit party. Successful parties take time to create, show their guests love, are not afraid of team collaboration, have a banging sound system, include an element of surprise-be it a live performance or guest DJ-invite guest DJs who know how to work a crowd; by knowing what song to play at the right time and invite DJs who are DJs first. Last but not least, a successful party unifies, not divides. Dj Stan Zeff said it best, “We are one!!!”


June 16, 2013


Happy Father’s Day


You’ve got to love the event pages on social media websites.  The best is the website, yada-yada-yada, that tracks who is going to attend an event.  Read the dozens of posts to hype the event.  Check out the several comments to hype the posts.  Thumb up.  Over one hundred people click, “going.”  Nowhere near one-hundred people attend the actual event, not even ninety or eighty….the drastic drop grows depressing.  There goes the digital age’s accuracy of tracking and surveillance.

 This ain’t no stairway to heaven but a stairway to a hole-in-the-wall.  The thought references the steps that lead to the entrance of the venue’s smaller room.  Even sadder, is the missing accessible ramp for the disabled.  Walk-if you can-through the open door, greet the Tambor Party’s awesome twosome.  Purchase a Tambor tee, members: ten bucks, nonmembers: fifteen bucks, in the tiny foyer adjacent the men’s and women’s rest areas.  Enter the main room.

-Witness the makeshift DJ stage.  Listen to the sound system pieced together by the hands of manual labor and view the neon strobe lights playing a game of cat chase mouse, without succumbing to a seizure, underneath a Pro lighting setup. Tambor deserves an A for effort.   The party is a DIY initiative.-

There is still something off kilter about the smaller space.  The vibe is off.  The room is dark, too dark, for a Tambor party.  And the room is too small.  Whiff.  The air smells stale.  A chill hangs overhead.  And, no, this chill does not blast from the AC or industrial fans.

Where is the love?  Is the love at the bar?  Can the love be found upstairs in the VIP area?  Perhaps, is the love at the merchandise table in the hall that separates the larger room from the smaller room?  Where the larger room is Tambor’s home, the smaller room is Tambor’s gloom.


Several months ago, one post on yada-yada-yada asked, “What is the house music song you never want to hear played at a party?  One female dancer commented, “My Name Is” by DJ Zinhile.  DJ BE, hard at work, plays the Alpha & Omega Drum Arena Remix.  Where BE fails, he trumps with Atlantans ChiProfess and Kwi B’s, who have yet to arrive at the party, “We Are Black Love.”  The Tambor Party’s number two keeps the music Afro for the remainder of his set.


Several family faces are absent.  Where are the people who complain they want to hear different music played?  Where are the virgin ears that have yet to experience this month’s guest DJ?  Furthermore, where are the 80% other folk who attended last month’s Tambor Party?  “The night is young,” Optimism answers. “Surely they are on their way.”


An impressive montage of pounding drums, hissing snares and hi-hats abruptly fade.  The event’s guest DJ, dressed in a blue V neck that exposes his chest fur, stands center stage. Cue the music.  A Spanish guitar plucks strings over Balearic beats.  The song is the perfect nod to summer nights in Ibiza.  It’s a rather soft-opening statement.

“Whomp.  Whomp….Chomp.” The sound is bass heavy.  A weight reserved much more for trap & dubstep’s aggression than deep house’s spiritualism.

“Can you hear the Tambor bass?”

Stanzeff.  Yes.  Not only do the people hear the bass, they feel the bass.  Apparently, Lars interprets Stan’s inquiry as an opportunity to pound the shit out of the bass.  He drops the bass, filters the bass and explodes the bass on several songs to come.  Lars is that eight year old child mistakenly left in a music studio, playing with the controls, sliding crossfaders, turning knobs, and pushing buttons that light up bright colors while he grins mischievously.  Behind the decks, he is a mad scientist.  Lars concocts further antidotes of claptrap rarely heard in these parts.  Voiceovers and sampled vocals float haphazardly over the loudest percussions imaginable.  Lyrics collide into digital beeps and pongs.  The faint of ears need protection.

Several standees-wearing the color white, the party’s unofficial shade, stand glowing underneath a black light,-wonder where the music marches towards.  Several dancers, too busy dancing can care less.  The music must be trusted.  The DJ must be trusted.  The medium must be trusted.   The west coast maestro understands.  He silences all doubts.

“We Are Sons of Yoruba of West Africa”

“We Are Sons of the Great Divinity” speaks the South African producer and vocalist, Bluelle on “We Are Africa.”  The crowd agrees.  Lars has their attention.

Sonic jolts of bass shake the ground.  A synthesizer chords slices the air.  The voice of string instruments stutter.  Electronic bleeps burp on ones and threes.  Heavy percussions thump, tick tock.  Seismic shifts of sound evoke a melodious flow. A sample of Common Sense’s “Voices Inside My Head” pits the lyrics to the drum.  Viewing the surroundings suggests common sense lacks as several people appear to hear voices inside their head.

Vrooom.  A white Panama hat blows by.  Actually it’s a female, all smiles and entirely too happy, skipping by.  An unknown lady dressed in all black molests a male dancer, without permission, and proceeds to tango.

“There is too much going on.”  Natalie Cole comments.  Oops, that’s not Natalie Cole.

Look.  There onstage.  Have you seen a DJ on bended knees play music?  If anyone else isn’t having the time of their life, then Lars is having the time of your life for you.

“Happy Father’s Day!” DJ Stanzeff shouts out.

Lars, the graying father and loving husband plays his mad scientist’s bravado.  The bass disappears.  He teases the crowd. He throws out the bass and snatches it back. Finally, he fully drops the bass over a tribal thumper of soft handclaps and a tambourine shrilling against stark minimalism.  A male’s falsetto flutters into ears.  His heavenly voice commands “The Only Way.”  The anthem rings loud and clear.  The Ralf Gum featuring Kenny Bobien single (Artistic Soul Spiritual Touch Mix) inaugurates Tambor’s policy that this event is for all races, creeds, colors or origins.

Kudos to the different shades of faces, who rarely attend a Tambor Party, that show up and represent.  Right stage, B-boys crop a circle for dance offs.  Rear room a dance duo performs syncopated choreographed steps.

A deep bass line wobbles against synthetic warps plowing over soft pads that crescendo into an orchestrated hotbed of deep tech.  A voice calls “Hey” that steadily echoes to a soft whisper.  The Russian born, Ghana bred, current Limpopo SA resident, Kojo Akusa track (Posh Mix) has one B-boy spinning around in circles on his head with no hands.  The dancer receives a small applause.

 Lars descends not only deeper into the heart of Africa but through time; a fall that finds him almost entirely too entrenched in the sound of shrubbery from yore.   Instant House’s “Awade” (Joe’s Jungle Sounds Dub) hashes stark bongos fused amid a sexy sax with an airplane flying overhead and more yells than a Yeezus track.  At this point Lars digs deep, a move that might scare the breakers afar. Perhaps the tribal emphasis stems from the Tambor Party’s philosophy of all things the drum.  Notably, the sound quickly oscillates to further global influences.

Ceila Cruz”Elegua.”  The late “Queen of Salsa” or “La Guarachera de Cuba”award-winning voice soars on the Orisha tribute, remixed by Jose Marquez a former Tambor guest DJ. Orchestrated viola strings crescendo to a dramatic climax.  The music breaks.  An all too familiar bass line punches with the ringing of a cowbell.  The crowd recognizes one of the most sampled bass lines in popular music.  They revel with regard.  The music time travels back to the Reaganomics era with assisted fuel from Eddie Grant’s, “Time Warp.” During the party’s peak hour, the DJ/Deeper Shades producer/remixer drops the lows, the mids and allows the highs to scream at a pitch reserved for canines for thirty seconds.  This is the Lars Behrenroth experience.

Consider Lars Behrenroth hails from Germany, the land where music chemists crafted the industrial sound.  Midwest America, Detroit and Chicago especially, go gaga for industrial tech but the South-not so much.  The L.A. resident is no stranger to the A, having played in the town eight times in six years, an astronomical accomplishment for any DJ.  Like an extended family of cousins never met, so is the ever expansion of the city’s deep/soulful house community.  Many freshmen heads are unfamiliar with Atlanta’s adopted cousin.  Salutations must commence.  His music is assertive, bash and unrelenting.  Yet, his music can be all fluff and full of sex.  Take, Botswana, Meropa Park’s “Live A Lil” remixed by Canadian Suges, a promo from The Deeper Shades of House imprint.  The dancers let loose.  Ponytails drop to reveal long manes.  Hips swing left to right.  Arms stretch into the air.  Heads bob.  Smiles stretch wider.  Dance moves become sexually suggestive techniques of foreplay.  This is how sexy house sounds.  And the Deeper Shades label owner, no stranger to making love to the music, gets down.  He dances a little. He drinks a little.  He gets his groove on.

What catapults this German turned American citizen above his peers?  It’s his WTF moments where the Deeper Shades founder triumphs.   His ability to dig deep, pull out and drop a piece of music that explodes like combustible gas.  The philharmonics run.  The people run.  They run not from the dance floor but to the dance floor.  “I totally forgot that song existed.” and “Where did he pull that one out from?”  People ask.  Yes, Lars throws curveballs.

 The crowd never sees coming Georg Levin featuring Clara Hill’s “(I Got) Somebody New.”  The decade-old classic played on heavy rotation on the city’s HBCU jazz radio station back in the day.  Jazz Nouveau.

Lars loops the mid-tempo track in mid-song.  The next track of tribal drums plays.  He steadies himself, hands and all.  The crowd stares unaware of what takes place.  The man of the hour matches the grooves.  He clocks his time.  He turns the Bozark knobs with an acute acumen of skilled precision.  The two tracks slowly consummate.

“Take your time.” One dancer shouts from the crowd.

“Take your time. Work dat….”  With a punch of sound “(I Got) Somebody New” resounds from nowhere.  Surprise!  Lars creates an Afro infused spontaneous mash-up of the two songs.  Eyes and ears are stunned.  The room is on fiyah.  Thankfully, the two industrial fans positioned at the ends of the DJ stage cool heated bodies.

“Who’s got my bass?”  The ever gregarious cousin yells.  He looks around like he is about to bomb the room.

“Where’s my bass?”

He teases the audience with words.

“We got it.” One dancer responds.  And with that…. “BOOM!” The bass falls on the dancers with vengeance. Lars pulls the cowbell to the forefront on Floetry’s, “I Want You” remixed by Tambor’s previous month’s guest DJ, Osunlade.  Voices yell, fists air punch and bodies erk and jerk with excitement.

Lars drops acid! That is acid house.  For the old-school heads, A Guy Called Gerald’s “Voodoo Ray” stirs memories of the late 80’s nostalgia.  A time when Roland 808’s and Roland TR-909s were rad.

Having taken Tambor for a wild and whimsical whirl of tech, the Men of Nile’s “Watch Them Come” brings the guest DJ’s time to a close but not before one last tribal thumper.

A white Tambor tee and white pants glides onto stage.  Tambor’s daddy, DJ Stanzeff guides the sound.  He is up to something.

That eight year old kid is still having too much fun, turning knobs and pressing buttons.  To watch him play is both exhilarating and exhausting.

“Bop, bop, bop.”

“Bop, bop, bop.”  The drum pounds louder and louder and louder until, his finger rashly presses the Bozak’s loop function.  A belt heavy of drums unleashes its power through out the room.  The crowd loses their minds. The force of Marlon D and Boddhi Satva’s “Power of the Drum (Marlon D’s Tribal Deep Tribal Mix) is unstoppable.  Sadly, Lars is stoppable.  DJ Stanzeff stands ready to play.  However, Lars won’t let go.  He continues starts the drums over from the top and BANG.

 “Tambor, let’s give it up for Lars.  The people give a rousing applause.  “We will have him back soon.”


Several months earlier, a Chicago DJ posted on yada,yada,yada, “Even if Jesus remixes this song, I never want to hear this song played again.”  The song: Dennis Ferrer’s “Hey Hey.”  DJ Stanzeff opens his set with the Osunlade Edit.  The majority of the crowd is entertained and sings “Hey Hey” in return.  They must be drunk.

Again, why is it that 80% more people attended last month’s Tambor compared to this month’s party?  Answer. The DJ.  Sadly when an “I haven’t heard of that DJ” who brings a fresh approach and plays a justified sound, people play ghost.  Of course, a sizable crowd represented.  Yet, this Tambor fell short of its mandate.  This was a must attend event.  No excuses.  Lars deserved better.  He deserved an authentic Tambor experience; the larger room, a more engaged audience and eager fans that attended to support.  After all, this is Lars freaking Behrenroth playing at Tambor.  A rarity.  And if you didn’t know then you should’ve asked somebody.

Visuals and Words by AJ Dance

OSUNLADE 18.05.13

May 19, 2013



A brush of a shoulder here and a brush of a shoulder there detour not from the festivity at hand.  A sea of brown and beige paints the room’s canvas.  The lovely soul children have arrived.  The people pack the place.  They come ready to be baptized into the waters of deep.  Digital phones and tablets rush front and center stage with bright red buttons aglow that records movement.  Onstage busy bodies migrate to and fro as they prepare for the third coming.  The return of one of the most anticipated Ministers of Sound that has defined a musical movement for this generation’s era. 

Tambor Party.  Let us welcome back for the third time, all the way from Greece, Mr……”   


Osunlade’s Tambor debut, three years earlier, saw the “Envision” singer share the bill with a fellow DJ from Chicago.  Talk about running upstairs and running downstairs to catch both DJs at work.  In addition, the venue’s shoebox shaped basement could not contain the crowd Osunlade commands.

One year later sees Osunlade-in support of his final house music offering ‘Pyrography’ with organic illustrations from artist Scott Marr-headline Tambor’s two-year anniversary soiree to a capacity crowd.  Peculiarly, Tambor was pushed out of the venue’s more spacious accommodation and into a smaller adjacent corner with no air-conditioning in mid-August heat.  Epic FAIL. 

This time around, team Tambor envisioned correctly and secured the event facility’s main room, come hell or high water.     


Reinvention is essential.  Not only has Osunlade’s music manifesto evolved at each Tambor but so his appearance.  Gone, the dreads traded for a military cut.  Ever present: the ear gauges large enough to punch a fist through.  Standing proud and appearing stunning in a golden tee, contrasted by a grey vest, the artist steps up to play. 

The warm cheers subside.  Quietly the people stand.  A sense of anticipation shatters the atmosphere.  An anticipation so delicate it borders on discretion.  Suddenly, a shimmering vocal sounds.  It softly dances on heads and drifts through the air.  As so, eloquent discretion begets questions.  Who is singing?  What is the title of this track?  Everyone’s response: petrified silence.  Perhaps this is no expected powerhouse anthem, but more of a soft opener wetting the people’s appetite for more to come. 

Punch the bass and hit throttle.  The music kicks into high gear with Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” (Osunlade Mix).  Stevie Nicks never sounded so distinguished than belting notes over a deep house treatment.  The audience agrees.  They sing along.

Questionable.  Neophyte, Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games” (A Nooma Remix by Manoo) quiets the tone but keeps bodies in motion. 

BOOM!!! Afefe Iku’s “Mirror Dance” shatters the sound sphere.  The song’s vibrancy still has not lost its edge.  The crowd jumps off.  Their unbridled praise proves the Yoruba Soul Remix featuring Oveous Maximus is still relevant. 

Anyone for a slow dance?  Jill Scott’s “My Love” plays filler duties.  The Jason B Remix is a sleeping beauty that needs to stay asleep. 

“HEEEYY.” Dave Ghan screams.  The crowd awakes and stands attentive.  Depache Mode’s lead vocalist sings “Reach Out” on MasterKev/Tony Loreto and Polyrhythm’s interpretation of “Personal Jesus” against a stark beating percussion. “Reach Out And Touch Me” is what the crowd tries to do.  With arms stretched high and hands raised in the air a spiritual pilgrimage begins.

The spiritual apex ascends.  This time Atlanta’s Donnie sings “Olmec Save Us” (Yoruba Soul Mix) produced by Atlantan Kai Alce, who is in the house.  People beg, “What is the name of this track?  “Where can I download it?”

Jazzy Jeff featuring Erro’s “Rock With You” (Yoruba Soul Dub Mix) oscillates right into the hands of yesteryear.  Chicago’s “Street Player’s” brass section dazzles dancers with dynamics, Lil Louis’ & The World’s “I Called You (But You Weren’t There) provides the wit with its tell-tale of love gone wrong, and later Candido’s “Thousand Finger Man” surprises and delights and refreshes seasoned ears.


The battle of the event occurs: Jack Son’s “Thrill Her” versus Prince’s “Controversy.”  The room explodes.  People scream.  People dance.  People sweat. 

As this is the party of sweat stains.  Perspiration accents brows, drops from foreheads, runs down bare arms and decorates T-shirts.  Be careful.  Even the slippery floor sweats.    

One word describes a world-renowned DJ/producer/songwriter/singer that can slay a room with a belt-heavy of eclectic catalog hits, produced or remixed for the likes of mainstream artist Frank Ocean featuring Earl Sweatshirt’s, “Super Rich Kid” to indie repertoire Jazztronik’s, “Dentro Mi Alma.” The word is pride.  A pride that sings so loud and so clear that it demands attention.  Live and in person, singer soulstress Nadirah Shakoor does so.  She takes the stage to sing her female fueled power anthem, “Pride.”  Surprise!  No one envisioned this moment where these two musical souls, the producer and the singer, would synergize together on Tambor’s stage.  The DJ steps back; the singer steps forward.  Osunlade digs out another cohort/producer, Andy Catana’s “Ironia,” a deep/tech house four-to-the-floor treat from his 2010, “Occult Symphonic.”  From the OS to Pyrography, “Envision,” (Ame Remix) plays but right at the break where sonic beeps collide with bombastic bass the song disappears.

“Bleep, Bop”

“Bleep, Bleep, Bop”


“Bleep, Bleep, Bop”

“Ooooo, Yeee, Ooooo”



“Bah, Bah, Bah, Bah”  

With every “Bleep” a Bozark knob turns clockwise.  With perfect timing between intervals of FX, the sound is tweaked with skilled precision.  The spectacle displays a master of music playing Space Invaders on an Atari gaming system. 

A drum kicks.  A four count rhythm startles.  A climatic build of dizzying bleeps and bumps clash against stark fireworks.   Galactic shrills scream “Bang.”  This is the one minute opener to one of the most amazing pieces of music ever recorded.

“Fireworks”/ “Computer Games” is the song that might have made Kraftwerk uneasy.  “Computer Games” inspired the hip hop and electronic/electro age of music.  Tokyo Japan’s most successful outfit, Yellow Magic Orchestra’s opus takes the dancers on a magic carpet ride to the Far East where sound imagery intersects Asian arts.  The song-composed of strings, steel vibes, warm keys and fluttering flutes, all played on synthesizers-plays in its entire glory for seven minutes and twenty seconds.        

The party becomes a performance.  Osunlade transforms from DJ to entertainer.  He dances.  He frolics to every count, every intricate detail of rhythmic expression via instrument.  At best, Osunlade is a showman. 

“I can’t take no more.” One dancer pants.  “I’m about to pass out.”  Osunlade slays the room.  Dancers hold one another up.  Even Tambor’s banner on stage lies on the floor.   

Next, the crowd journeys along the Nile to the Motherland.  Pyramids raid the distance and camels travel on cruise control.  Listen.  The Jones Girls sings, “Nights Over Egypt.” 


Somewhere the music goes obscure between Latin rhythms of bossa nova and samba where African drums talk into the ancestral universe. 

Osunlade returns the journey back to a safe destination, his Yoruba Soul catalog.  Self- produced, “Cantos A Ochun Et Oya” and Erro’s “Don’t Change” (Main Mix) segue into remixed classics for the likes of Tortured Soul with “I Might Do Something Wrong” (Osunlade Lonely Remix) and the pimp-slap Vivian Green’s “Emotional Rollercoaster,” (Osunlade Late Night Mix) both nods to the early aughts. 

A slight interruption by DJ Stanzeff can’t stop the music.  Osunlade is where?  He is zoned in the mix and unable to stop playing music even if he wanted too.  Sadly, Osunlade has no choice.   The room illuminates with fluorescents.  Translation: Time To Go. 

The event’s closing number a padapella of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You” brings out the freaks.  Several couples grind and grope one another as if this event is one large orgy.  Pheromones fill the air.  Sex is in the future for some tonight.         


The Tambor Party is known for many surprises.  But this party turned performance was the surprise of all.  From a live singer to a DJ playing three instruments called two Pioneer CD players and one Bozark.  This Tambor felt authentic, not forced, organic, not processed, yet cohesive lacking definition. 

The music fit no formula, format or flow.  The mixing of songs seemed cold.  At times, one song slammed into the next that forced the music into unexpected genres.  Why was this so?  How did this work?  Better yet, it worked!  If this had been another DJ the experience would have largely failed flat.  Word to the wise: Osunlade is often imitated but never duplicated.  


DJ Stanzeff takes hold of the microphone to announce, “Tambor let’s give a round of applause to our good friend Mr…”

“I’m freaking family!”  Osunlade interrupts.  “I’m freaking family!”

Yes, Mr. Osunlade you are family. 



Words and photography by AJ Dance








March 17, 2013




Load. Lock.  Click. Boom.  I’ve been shot by a South African DJ.


Coffee is a feel-good addictive substance.  The early legend of Kaldi states, when the Ethiopian goatherd saw his goats eat coffee berries from a certain tree, the goats grew so spirited they were unable to sleep at night.  Soon after, during the 15th century-coffee seeds, yes seeds not beans-traveled from the region of southern Arabia, North Africa, Middle East, Europe and then to the Americas.  Along the journey coffee developed distinct flavors in certain regions of the world by the importers of the seed.

House music is a feel-good addictive anomaly.  When discovered in America during the late 20th century by overseas music enthusiasts, house music’s sound was handpicked, cupped, roasted, ground, brewed, and filtered into a regional dialect they could call their own.  Over time, the world would morph and shuffle the 4-to-the-floor sound to align with their regional tastes.

South Africa’s house music and Durham born Nkosimathi Maphumulo are the above examples.  As South Africa’s popularity of deep/soulful house music has eclipsed its popularity stateside or perhaps worldwide at any particular time during house music’s lifespan; artist Nkosimathi music’s styling is deep, mildly bitter yet extremely rich with robust flavors.  South Africa house music and Nkosimathi are addicting forces.  Each possesses curious fascinations; where Nkosimathi claims soulful house music, the music that mainstream Black America refuses to acknowledge, as his own and the voice of his beloved South Africa; South Africa house music has become a disputable bond to all things Africa-some kind of noir roots that binds lost heritage of self-identity discovery through black music.  The attraction lies somewhere between the two.  Bottom line: The Diaspora of Africa soul has returned full circle to its indigenous people. 


There is a line outdoors.  An actual line!  Native South Africans mingle with out-of-towners who mingle with local family, all are giddy with anticipation.  Sixty degree temperatures marks spring’s arrival.  Spring feels great.  Spring laughs.  Spring blows a mild breeze.  How refreshing.  In the line, various shades of brown agree. 

When “Take Me To My Love,” another Ralf Gum hit featuring Monique Bingham on vocals greets guests, the event is sure to be rewarding.  Tambor’s resident, DJ BE serves up the unreleased afro remix followed by an extreme outpouring of soul fro house that seems generous enough, if not superfluous.  

The venue’s main and largest room is shell-shocked with activity.  Afro house plays the soundtrack to a March Madness game playing on two monitors in the back of the room.  Serious dancers occupy speakers.  Several familiar faces, not seen in ages, occupy tables.  Drinks and small plates are ordered.  Staff scurries about the room waiting on tables and clearing empty glasses. Upstairs a private party packs the VIP area.  Activity aside, this party is destined to put the capital T back into Tambor.            

DJ Ed Dunn

Surprise!!!  New York City’s famed producer/remixer/DJ Ed Dunn appears onstage wearing a black baseball cap and facial frown.  Is playing at Tambor that bad?

At Tambor, South Africa is not the only movement rising but too the dance floor.  B boys showoff tightly executed choreography of syncopated steps and triple spins.  While B girls pop and lock in robotic staccato.  The dance circle spells s-e-r-i-o-u-s.   

Mouths drop.  Digital recorders rise.  Look onstage.  All hail South Africa’s flag.  Its diplomat arrives.   Nkosinathi Maphumulo.  AKA Black Coffee. 

Radio Star

DJ Black Coffee opens with a compelling narrative of R’n’B.  The sound most fit for urban radio than club ready.  This is the material that stateside adult urban-contemporary radio should play intermingled next to R’n’B’s royalty.  Romantic vocals conquer bleeding hearts.  Slow-motion beats per minute.  Global melodies of global dance.  Detailed song writing-a craft amiss in most American house music- enough to warrant prestigious academy awards.  An afro world filled with rapturous lyrics, percolating percussions that ooze soul in all matters.  Perhaps the sound is difficult to digest for aged house purists. While newbies to the scene, short swallow the sing-alongs. 

“Take Me To My Love” sings a jazzy a capella vocal until a soft percussion strikes.  The commencement of beats begins.  The Raw Artistic Soul Vocal Dub of the Ralf Gum track sets the mood for what is to come.  Sampled drum loops, minimal instruments, dazzling dancing keys, warm strings and sporadic handclaps play in the atmosphere.  Black Coffee wastes no time.  He pounds the drums and drops the music with skilled precision.  Monique Bingham’s vocals spin “On and on and on and on and on and on and on and on,” across the room, until she commands, “I want you to lead me.” This is what the crowd anticipates Black Coffee to do.  But the cautious spectators ask, “Where to?”   

“MOVE.”  Black Coffee commands the audience on his latest import. Once again, where to?  Moving or dancing proves difficult.  Bodies are packed tight like addicts in line awaiting a caffeine fix.  Apropos, Tambor has not seen these numbers of bodies in years.  Regardless, Black Coffee featuring Soulstar is out to “Rock My World.”  Sadly the song rocks nothing.   

“Her Majesty/The Queen Is In The Booth/Come To The Dance Floor.”  Poetress Busiswa Gqulu’s command actually works.   Additional mini-shorts and stiletto spikes arrive to dance on the already packed floor.  Voices scream.  Arms fly in the air.  A dub of South African’s premier female disc jockey, DJ Zhile’s “My Name Is” brings the house down.

The Art of Mixing

Black Coffee is dark roasted.  He gives the people a taste of his original home brew.  The flavor not found on street corners at specialty baristas or copy-cat retail chains.  His brew goes deep. Dark.  Robust.  There are no floor fillers.  No sugar.  No cream.  Black Coffee gives it raw. 

The super DJ puts a fresh brew on his past; Zakes Bantwini a cappella conjures “JuJu,” Thiwe’s haunting ache sounds on “Crazy” and Bucie says, “Turn Me On.”  Dark clouds give way to light.  Dispair turns to hope.  DJ Kent arrives.  Just as vocalist Malehloka Hlalele sings the hook on, “Falling,” the music drops into a sleek sexy R’n’B slow burner that floors every mouth in the entire room.  DJ Black Coffee leaves the radio sound behind for the art of mixing.  Look out! 

Black Coffee is on fire.  And so is the room.  The room’s heat index breaks scorching records.  Feeling uncomfortable?  Honestly. This is to be expected when two-hundred plus hot mochas are dancing and sweating. 

DJ Kent turns DJ Superman.  As the Princess of House, Bucie loudly proclaims “Superman.”  The crowd approves with vocal praise.     

Out of nowhere like a speeding bullet.  Black Coffee surprises with Louie Vega & Jay “Sinister” Sealee’s golden, “Diamond Life,” starring Julie McKnight on vocal lead.    The crowd sings.  They can’t control themselves, neither can Black Coffee.  Rhythm and blues a cappellas dialogue for one hook and one verse over sonic booms of tribal tech dialect.  The mixing is just the way the audience prefers their coffee.  Black.  Hot.  Strong.  No froth.  In the midst of the action Black Coffee uses his index finger to stop the music and strike a round button aglow on the disc player.  He moves his index finger right to the mixer and then to his laptop where he drops EFX.  The music starts again.  The people dance.  The music stops.  Black Coffee nods his head to the tune of the sounding EFX.  The music starts again.  The people go mad.  The music stops again.  Black coffee nods his head to a lock and load gunshot EFX.  Black Coffee, through the music, fires a gunshot at the audience.  The music starts again.  People fall over each other.  Digital cameras and mobile devices record the entertainment.  Mouths of DJs in the room are awestruck at the spectacle.  All of Black Coffee’s mixing is executed with one arm and one hand.  He can’t be contained.  As if Coffee’s mixing brilliance could not enter the stratosphere of mixing genius, it does.  Theatric horns sound.  The tune the entire world recognizes sounds.  People catch their breaths.  Jack Son’s “Thrill Her” falls upon the crowd.  South Africa’s Black Motion treatment releases the most excited fanaticism of the party.  If weave and wigs fall off this would be the time.  The room goes ape shit.  Pandemonium is unleashed. 

If a DJ playing the same song (different remix) twice in the night is not your cup of coffee.  Too bad.  Black Coffee delivers another fresh cup of DJ Zhile’s, “My Name Is,” this version contains Busiswa Gqulu’s vocals in full, spoken in both English and indigenous tongue Xhosa, also extracted from the SA collection of the song’s many recently released remixes.  The song of the party goes to Ralf Gum’s “Take Me To My Love” that plays for the third time.  An unreleased remix keeps the song fresh, piping hot and enjoyable.  Throwing dance hall in the mix, Masters At Work featuring Puppah Nas-T’s “Work” gyrates hips as vocalist Denise commands the crowd to, “Go Down” which they do.  The room’s temperature increases a notch.  Someone might have to call the fire department to put the coffee pot out.  Actually things cool off a bit with a remix to the late Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know.”  Uh oh.  DJ Stan Zeff walks onstage.  This signals the brew is about to exchange hands.  However, Black Coffee is not ready to exit without another scorcher. This time MJ’s “Billie Jean” (Rocco Deep Mix) is on tap.  The crowd goes crazy.  They are too distracted to note…“Tambor.  Give it up for the man Black Coffee.”

DJ Stan Zeff

To ease everyone off their caffeine high, DJ Stan Zeff plays Black Coffee’s “We Are One” featuring South African trumpet great Hugh Masekela.  The time reads 2 am.  Family faces stream through the door arriving from an earlier concert.  Stan Zeff is primed to serve them some brew.  Tambor Music’s debut release “Set Me Free” (Stan Zeff Vocal Mix) by Mr. Funk Daddy featuring DJ Sue sweetens the crowd.  Black Coffee’s music partner Culoe De Song shows off his remix to South African band, Goldfish with “Call Me.”  At one point, a seafood chain’s LobsterFest commercial, playing on the room’s back monitors, proves more entertaining. Alas, DJ Stan Zeff being the professional he is places the focus back on the music with Kee Lo’s “Sad Soul.”  The Baffa Jones’ Vocal Destruction Dub destroys the dance floor with sliced vocals bouncing against chopping chords over minimalist drums.  The mighty O’Jays play closer with “Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby (Sweet, Tender, Love)” a 4-to-the floor number that rides into the moonlight. 

DJ Black Coffee proved why he is addictive.  In his native South Africa the beloved DJ/producer/songwriter packs out futbol stadiums.  The same ethos is what Black Coffee brought to Tambor with numbers far less than thousands.  The ability to supersede great expectations of hype and glory of DJ extraordinaire showed uncanny.  These are the ingredients of a true DJ.  No froth.  All substance.  Much like the Kaldi Legend, when you taste the potent brew of Black Coffee there is no sleeping tonight. 

Words and Photography by AJ Dance


January 20, 2013


A sports fanatic dream is when salty snacks, fiery hot wings and cold brews-that makes guts proudly flop over waistlines-are cast in pretentious hierarchical displays in every supermarket grocery store.  These are the flatulence, oops, festivities leading up to the big game.  The super of all bowls.  The daddy of all daddies.  The well…one gets the ruckus that captures the world’s short attention span and limited IQ every February.  Hey look.  Even, Tambor joins in on the action. 

Tambor’s 2013 season is set to kick-off with a big bang of athletic proportions.  The stage is set.  Ready. Go.  The playing field’s turf is polished smooth.  Ready for the throngs of dancing feet to run, tackle and crush rhythmic grooves.  The LED Pro performs laser light theatrics worthy of a celebrity wardrobe-malfunction half-time exposure.  The sub woofers so bombastic could host a bowl game.

It’s game time.  The players are onstage.  The starting lineup….    

DJ BE #2 Center

DJ BE wins the coin toss.  He plays first.  Jersey number two kicks off the music into the playing field.  No one catches it.  So the center drives the music hard up fifty yards on first down.  Tambor secures home field advantage.  The hype builds.  Only the stadium is completely empty.  Hush.  The silence is deafening. 

Tambor’s season opener is off to a slow start-a very slow start.  The first and second downs appear as stop and go, slow-motion resolutions.  Slowly souls trickle into the stadium.  It’s early in the game. There is no need to sweat bullets-yet.  Back to the action. 

The offensive lineman works hard.  He travels four yards deep to the twenty-five yard line.  First down-and-ten.  He assumes eye formation.  Thirty….Thirty-five….Forty.  It’s fifteen yards on the first down.  The number two jersey works Arnaud D featuring Heidi Vogel’sGreen & Yellow into the mix.  There are eight dancers in the box.  Will he gain more?  He turns sharp and makes a rough transition.  He drives the music into harder territory, increasing the beats per minute with pulsating thumps, but is tackled at thirty yards.  Man, this crowd is tough.

[And now a word from our sponsor.  The first quarter was bought to you by Bozak.]

Tambor’s season ticket holders arrive.  Some dance.  Others stand on the sidelines. Some sway from side to side.  Others converse.

On field, team Tambor appears disjointed.  The players opt to wear various primary hue Tambor tees instead of sporting their unified manly blue Tambor jerseys.  Talk about confusing.

Pre-midnight, DJ BE leaves the game and is replaced by…

Jose Marquez Guest Headliner Halfback

Jose Marques arrives in the stadium with playbook in hand (CD holders) and is pumped to score touchdowns.  The halfback’s adrenaline pulsates at full-throttle.  A bead of sweat sacks his forehead.  He is all testosterone.  The runner segues into a boisterous consumption of deepness.  Followed by, African drums bum rushing from the sound system and onto the playing field to work a snap.  The drums transform the game.  Jose runs a punt.  The music goes deeper and deeper into the trenches of the field.

Yes! Team Tambor hosts the debut performance of southern California’s, Jose Marquez.  The rookie sensation is no stranger to athletic competitions, having three solid years of playing experience, he has performed around the globe at notable events as Djoon (Paris) and Miami (WMC).  The headliner sports a black Kazukuta Recordings tee and blue denim that stands out amongst his teammates.  All eyes and ears are tuned to the player, determining his next move.  What will he play?  Where shall he take the music?  Will he score?

First Down.  Second and ten.  Jose gives eye formation.  He runs the music to the seventeen yard line.  The music fumbles.  Jose continues to play hard.  Afro house treads into progressive deep house.  It’s another fumble.  Fumble after fumble fails to win over the crowd.  But Jose uses no time-outs.  The crowd responds defensively. It’s the first-and-ten.  The music goes out of bounds. It falls on deaf ears.  Feet stop dancing.  The dancers cut the field.  Somehow they seem let down.  Conventional wisdom tells the sports minded when the fans disappear trouble is a strategizing.  The referee calls…

“INTERCEPTION.”  (The music turns over.)

DJ Stanzeff #1 Quarterback

Wait one minute.  Sounds like a bootleg, but it’s not.  It’s Elements of Life featuring Josh Milan’sChildren of The World!”  There is play action at 124 beats per minute in F minor.  Eye formation looks to the left and then right.  The QB, DJ Stanzeff, knows the game is in trouble.  So the team leader brings pressure up the middle.  There is tight coverage on every side.  It’s a twenty-nine yard punt.  Wait another minute!  What a hit!  DJ Stanzeff breaks free at the forty yard line.  Jersey number one is in the zone!!! “That guy just dropped a load of bass.”  Zone coverage is deep with beats.  This is a COMEBACK!  The game is saved.  Nice job on execution.

The dance floor sees the most action of the night thus far.  The dancers are back in the game.  They frolic at full force.

Team Tambor runs the play.  Yes, Tambor “goes for it.”  DJ Stanzeff steps up on the line of scrimmage and makes the play!  The dancers scream.  It’s a first down.  Twenty…Twenty-five…Thirty…Thirty-five…Forty!!!  The music sweeps up the south side.  First down-and-ten.  Play action.  Snap.  Spot.  It’s a throw.  DJ Stanzeff catches it!  TOUCHDOWN!!! Kem featuring Chrisette Michelle’s “If Its Love” (Frankie Estavez Fusion Club Thumpin Remix) nails the coffin shut!!! The referee confirms.  The dancers go mad displaying acrobatic stunts.  There are handstands in crop circles, speaker whores kicking a foot to the speaker, and bodies rolling around on the floor in sweeping motions.  This is the game’s money shot.

Stanzeff continues with another bootleg this time from Jill Scott.  There’s a yard to the twenty-one.  Could this be red zone play?  Stanzeff is given a thirty yard try.  Unfortunately, there is no score.  The quarterback continues the momentum moving into afro beat territory.  The beats per minute increase to 126 with The Muthafunkaz,Oh I (Miss You)” the Atjazz Love Soul Mix that runs out of steam at the thirty yard line.  The D major song couldn’t quite make it to the red zone.

[And now a word from our sponsor: Fusicology.]

It’s the fourth down.  What will Team Tambor do next?  They have two options.  Team lead Stanzeff makes a split decision.  Jose Marquez is back in the game on the line of scrimmage.   Jose comes back strong-perhaps with a bit of vengeance.  Jose kicks a field goal playing Floetry’s “I Want You” (Osunlade Remix).  For the first time, the crowd responds with vocal praise. 

Two downs later the music is turned back over to Stanzeff who resumes play mode with Japanese producer Namy’sFrom Now Onwith Josh Milan on vocals.  The crowd plays ballet and keeps two feet on the field.  Then there is the repeat play of Arnaud D featuring Heidi VogelGreen & Yellow.”  The vibe ebbs.  The remainder of the game is quiet, if uneventful.

What a tough game for team Tambor and guest.  Jose Marquez seemed unable to make the cut. The southern Californian failed to make one touchdown to win over the crowd.  Game stats reveal Jose received little playtime.  Perhaps, had the halfback secured additional play time, he might have won over tough critics.  Here is to hoping, next time, team Tambor fans will show up in droves, won’t railbird, but join in the festivities with unbridled fanaticism. 

Back in the rear corner of the arena, the air feels lonely.  In the funk of left-over hazy oxidations, a shadow is made out of the blue.  There stands the game’s would be hero texting.  Hopefully the message is of better news.        

Words and photography by AJ Dance

DJ BE Mini-view

August 16, 2012

DJ BE mini-view
Interview by AJ Dance

This Atlanta DJ needs no introduction. If you are familiar with Atlanta’s deep & soulful house music scene, then you’ve seen DJ BE about at various functions or have heard DJ BE play around town. DJ BE has been a staple on the house music scene for many years and has played in about every restaurant, lounge and night club in the city. His dedication and tireless work in the house music scene not only comes off the strength of DJing, but also in the form of promoting parties, helping his DJ peers establish their name, crafting a weekly Internet radio show to creating Diversified Sounds podcasts. As the Tambor party reaches a milestone three year anniversary, DJ BE weighs in on important aspects and gives a little history into how this global phenomenon started.

AJ: What are your feelings on Tambor turning three years old?

BE: I’m really excited! In the beginning, you think you’re only going to last for three months. Tambor has not only survived more than three months but has endured various venue changes and DJ cancellations. So this is exciting.

AJ: Tell the fans how DJ BE became involved with the Tambor party?

BE: Actually, DJ Stanzeff and I met through a mutual DJ friend. At that time, I was working parties and barely keeping my head above water and DJ Stanzeff was in the same boat. So, our mutual DJ friend suggested that we get together and throw parties. Stanzeff and I met three times before anything happened. The first meeting dealt with us having the same goals, ideas and vision. Then we met again and nothing happened. Finally, on the third meeting, we thought, let’s do this. Then we had to think of a party name and the music direction. Stanzeff had thrown a couple of parties called “Tambor” many years ago and so we went with that name. At that time, I was getting into the afro/Caribbean sound and so we went in that musical direction. Robbie Randall became a part of the group later through an affiliation with an entertainment group. Noni Walker handles all of the brand marketing, social-network media, blog and website. She came on board during Tambor’s second year.

AJ: What are your personal plans for Tambor’s future?

BE: I have no personal plans per se. I view this as a collective effort. On the other hand, I would like to see the parties move towards nights with Stan and I playing more. Also, I would love to see more Tambor Members parties in an intimate setting throughout the year. Overall, I’m looking forward to the next three years.

If you are in the Atlanta area Friday night, be sure to check out the Tambor Party Meet N Greet at the Drinkshop at the W Hotel downtown, August 17 from 9pm-2pm.


July 23, 2012


The Afrozila Attacks

As a human morphs into a wolf by the full moon’s light, the affable Djeff has the supernatural ability to transform into the monstrous Afrozila when in DJ mode. The ectopic anomaly occurred somewhere during DJ Roland Clark’s spoken word opus, I Get Deeppreaching over the percolating Afro rhythms of Black Motion’s featuring Jah Rich finely crafted,Banane Mavoko(Dub Mix). The once graceful young man now turned the monstrous Afrozila spewed an infectious assault of bursting flames that spread like a wildfire on the loose throughout the room. For two hours and fifteen minutes the Afrozila weaved in and out of songs; Djeff Afrozila’s presents Gari Sinedina, Pilukaand Shana’s,Outplayed a cappellas; Rhianna’s, “We Found Love”, Ultra Nate’s, “Free” and Liquideep’s, “Alone” that sang over Afro beats while mixing two entirely different songs at once; Manoo’s, Kodjoand Thommy Davis’ & Ron Hall’s,Fugue In Bostonwhich can prove a dizzying feat for any bystander but the Afrozila pulled it off without a hint of challenge. Don’t close your eyes to sleep while this monstrosity spins because he is known to entertain the dancing eyes of spectators while mixing. The beast can work a Bozak with finesse precision and execute technical mixing skills beyond his years. Plus, the boy knows his music. Often times, the destructive force sang every word to the songs he played in their indigenous African tongue or maybe in his native Portuguese tongue. During the beginnings of the magnetic set the music sounded muffled or was played well-below volume. On the prowl, the Afrozila took note and adjusted the volume controls and turned knobs that sent Shana’s, “Out” with a clear and forceful bang. A Tambor party/Tribe Records classic, Sister Pearl’s, Bang The Drum (Manoo Remix) whipped the dancers into a sweat. Thank God for the working overhead ceiling fans. Unfortunately, the sinister Peven Everett with Burning Hot(Timmy Regisford & Adam Rios Mix) was leaked into the mix. On a side note, please house music DJs/producers/remixers throw this artist and his music into the retirement bins, his diabolical ego and cunning tactics precedes his work. Thankfully, Afrozila beat Peven’s vocals into a dizzying swirl and at the song’s climatic peak he abruptly killed the song to make way for the soft finger snaps and mellow vibes courtesy of Atjazz’s Love Soul Mix of Oh I (Miss You)by The Muthafunkaz featuring vocalists Sheila Ford and Marc Evans.” Soul-stunner Kem’s,Heaven (Marlon D & Groove Assassin Mix) opened to cheers of approval but proved a Catch-22. The deep house anthem of classic material is a beast in and of itself. It resides on the many of deep house DJ’s list “of must play songs” and is the type of song that any DJ can play to guarantee some type of audience response. Naturally, it’s a song to play if you want to wake a crowd from its slumber. On one hand, it’s great to hear the orchestrated rhythms sync to a heavenly climax, but on the other hand, the piece has been played so many times that people tend to become bored with it in mid second verse. Wait one second. Was that Robin S’, “Show Me Love” a cappella vocals committing a quick drive-by?!? Yes it was! The surprise of the party sent the crowd stir-crazy jumping up and down, and screaming, “Oh, no he didn’t!”

The Destruction

As Godzilla trampled Tokyo, Afrozila attacked Atlanta. Afrozila breathed upon the city a fiery rage of musical arsenal of a destructive force. For one hundred and thirty-five minutes, the attacked left no mindset intact or psyche untouched from the monstrous demolition. The beast went on a jolting rampage seeking to destroy all musical conformity. Afrozila’s mission was to annihilate the very fabric of self-destructing inveterate of music ideals, music prejudices and enslaving musical mindsets. Brick and mortar ethos were scorched and evaporated into thin air. Towering walls of musical fragmentations crumpled, fell and crashed to the ground. Steel statutes of music images were reduced to writhed framework. The mind could no longer hold on to anemic musicality but was free to love all music that promotes diversity, encourages change and provides substance. In the midst of the action, Tambor’s denizens freely danced in the rubble-filled streets. They danced, around and atop the rubble of once oppressive musical prejudices and preconceived notions of predictable music genres, glib music stereotypes and frothy music tastes. The city’s horizontal skyline of dancing music notes had been burned into magnetic proportions of ash, dust, and smoke. The Afrozila left behind a chaotic but beautiful mess that beckoned the city to musical change. It was this archetype that could start the ambitious makings of a new musical revolution for the hungry and thirsty of paradigms.

The Aftermath

Onstage, a hesitant looking Stanzeff, with microphone in hand, seemed preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to clean up the rubble after Afrozila’s devastating assault. Handling the adversity like a true professional, DJ Stanzeff assumed mass clean-up duties by playing hits like Quentin Harris’,My Joyand Regina Belle’s, “Baby Come To Me” (Shelter Mix) that swept up the debris into neat contained piles. The latter had people in clean-up mode doing handstands, dropping to the floor and collecting debris while rolling around on the floor. Even Djeff back in human form-changed shirts, and wore a grey Tribe Recordings tee-got in on the action. He made the rounds and posed for several photographs-avec hand gestures-and danced in his alter ego’s destructive calamity. The party ended with happy hearts dancing in joy. Sometimes, you just don’t care to clean up such beautiful shambles.

All photography by AJ Dance/Except Photo 11 by Ghostcam


July 22, 2012


Already, DJ BE had electrocuted the atmosphere with pulsating charged particles of electrons and protons dancing to diversified sounds that culminated in a show-stopping spectacle of frantic dance moves combusting from bouts of kinetic energy. There was nothing like the magic of a pre-warm-up, putting the folks in the mood, before the party’s derivative. By the stroke of midnight, BE’s successor wasted no time analyzing the musical elements of two Pioneer CDJs, a music/mixing software program, and the signature Bozak for what was to be an epic Tambor.

“Oh my!”
“I can’t wait!”
“Tonight’s going to be special!”
Several festive spirits whispered in high anticipation in the venue’s space number two, a smaller but more suitable arrangement. Although the crowd’s attendance faired less than record-breaking numbers, those that came out showed up and showed out. The feverish buzz trickled into the air-conditioned atmosphere and culminated at an audio zenith that tickled attentive ears. Why all the excitement? Well, grab your passport and Afro attire because we’re going on a quick journey for an educational visit to a country called Angola.

Angola sits on the West coast of Southern Africa next to the Atlantic Ocean to the West and Zambia to the East. With its Angola Mountain Range of Lela, a coastal capital city, Cracks of Tundarla, breathtaking waterfalls, sweeping hills and rugged cliffs the county’s scenery is one majestic behemoth. The fertile land which provides diamonds and oil fuels its strengthening economy. The Portuguese speaking country, freed from Portugal’s rule thirty-seven years ago, with a population of 19 million embraces its African heritage which can be heard in its music and seen in its dance, which brings us back to Tambor fresh off an airplane with additional baggage and an extra body.

The extra person aboard the aircraft was none-other-than Tiago Barros. Who? Djeff Afrozila. Tambor’s special guest DJ. Born in Portugal to a father from Cape Verde and a mother from Angola, Djeff grew up listening to an eclectic range of musical artists from Michael Jackson, Michael Bolton, Kassav to Tabanka Jazz. At the age of fifteen, the future DJ, would fall in love with house music and be influenced by the likes of Erick Morillo, Daft Punk and Robin S. In the year 2010 he would produce his first edit, “Canjika” and later go on to produce tracks and remixes for global renowned deep house music artists and labels. Currently, Djeff resides in Angola’s capital and largest city, Luanda. Based out of the urban hub is Kazukuta Records. Djeff, one of six DJs signed to the label with its growing roster, is en-route to becoming a burgeoning star in the world of Afro-deep house. The graphic arts and design graduate-which explains his fascination for haute couture, fashion forward promotional photographs, and avant-garde music videos-has handsome facial features that could have been ripped straight from the pages of a gentlemen’s quarterly fashion magazine or at least from a campy tourist brochure. The “I don’t look older than nineteen years of age” star sported the Kazukuta logo on a form-fitted white tee with grey graphics atop form-fitted blue denim. However, don’t be deceived by the lad’s 1.727 meters height, with a futbol player’s frame, and a clean-cut appearance because he would soon reveal his alter ego.

To Be Continued….

All photography by AJ Dance