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New York music

Related: American music - disco - rap and hip hop - No Wave - Tin Pan Alley - Nuyorican soul - New York - music

Artists: Patrick Adams - Afrika Bambaataa - Joe Claussell - ESG - Francois Kevorkian - Kool Herc - Larry Levan - Liquid Liquid - David Mancuso - Masters At Work - Tom Moulton - New York Dolls - N.Y.C. Peech Boys - Arthur Russell - Talking Heads - Todd Terry - Sonic Youth

Record labels: 99 Records [no wave] - Easy Street records [post-disco, proto-house] - Prelude records [disco] - Salsoul records [disco] - Sleeping Bag records [post-disco, proto-house] - Strata East [jazz] - Sound of New York, USA [rap, hip-hop] Turbo records [funk] - Wackies [reggae] - West End records [disco] -

New York's '70s-style dance underground has become a veritable heritage industry similar to jazz in New Orleans. -- Simon Reynolds

84 King Street, Soho, NYC, building that housed the Paradise Garage

The Paradise Garage was the legendary New York night club where for more than 10 years Larry Levan held court. Quite a number of today's most successful producers and DJs credit their first exposure to Larry's music at the Paradise Garage as a moment that changed their lives forever and inspired their whole careers. [Aug 2006]

New York gave birth to disco 1.0 and disco 2.0. Two clubs that played a huge role in these musical genres are the Loft in the first phase of disco and the Paradise Garage in the second disco era. New York is also where no wave originated and a city which housed some really good labels like Strata East (jazz), Wackies (reggae) and Salsoul (disco). We love Nuyorican Soul, don't we? [Aug 2006]

Music of New York City

The music of New York City is a diverse and important field in the world of music; no American city has as central a place in music history as New York City. It has long been a thriving home for jazz, rock and the blues, and is the birthplace of salsa and hip hop. The city's culture, a melting pot of nations from around the world, has produced vital folk music scenes like Irish-American music and Jewish klezmer. Beginning with the rise of popular sheet music in the early 20th century, New York's Broadway musical theater and Tin Pan Alley's songcraft, New York has been a major part of the American music industry [1].

Music author Richie Unterberger has described the New York music scene, and the city itself, as "(i)mmense, richly diverse, flashy, polyethnic, and engaged in a never-ending race for artistic and cosmopolitan supremacy". Despite the city's historic importance in the development of American music, there are those who feel that its status has declined in recent year, due to a combination of increased corporate control over music media, an increase in the cost-of-living and the rise of local music scenes whose success is facilitated by the cheap communication provided by the Internet. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_New_York_City [Mar 2006]

New York scenes

Peak year: 1969
You might see Andy, but probably not. For sure you saw Mickey Ruskin.

Peak year: 1971
Steve Ostrow’s place to get all pruney listening to Bette and Barry.

Peak year: 1972
Where the uptown disco crowd listened to “Rock the Boat.”

Peak year: 1973
David Mancuso’s masterpiece, the greatest of the early underground discos.

Peak years: 1976–78
Larry Levinson’s swinging dungeon. The sex was overrated; the dancing wasn’t.

Peak years: 1976–79 In all its grungy glory, the single best center of any scene.

Peak years: 1977–79
Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager’s star-studded, coke-fueled disco palace, a cultural landmark with laughing gas.

Peak year: 1979
If Steve Mass let you sit upstairs, you were royal, in a vaguely cruddy way.

Peak year: 1982
A three-tiered emporium of fabulously loud insignificance.

Peak year: 1982
Was Larry Levan the greatest spinner in history? Anyone who was there thinks so.

Peak year: 1985
Changing monthly themes (Sex, Faith, Body Oddities) made it feel like every night was Halloween.

Peak year: 1987
The church setting always made you feel like you’d be spanked when you got home.

Peak year: 1989
When Avenue A was the far east. Nirvana played “About a Girl” here, and “Polly.”

Peak year
: 1987
The dirigible of the downtown scene. Now an NYU dorm.

--Newyorkmetro.com [May 2004]


WFMU is an independent freeform radio station broadcasting at 91.1 fm in the New York City area, at 90.1 fm in the Hudson Valley, and live on the web in Realaudio, or in Windows Media, as well as two flavors of MP3, and all programs archived in Realaudio. One of the hosts is Kenneth Goldsmith --http://www.wfmu.org/

Avant-Garde New York Dance Music


To quote noted avant-garde composer and historian "Blue" Gene Tyranny, one branch of avant-garde music is identified by "unique approaches to melody, harmony, and rhythm...including what could be called 'the downtown sound,' where pop, world, techno, folk, and concert sounds have all become part of the general vocabulary, not 'collaged' in some artificial way but a result of the musicians having grown up hearing and playing this music. This is an apt description of early 1980's New York City avant-garde dance music as it developed and revolved around producer Bill Laswell, hip-hop godfather Afrika Bambaata, and others. -- Bill Lamb

Bill Laswell

Bill Laswell grew up in Detroit. There he played with a number of disco-funk bands. He arrived in New York in 1978 and met synthesizer player, and later producer, Michael Beinhorn, and drummer Fred Maher. Soon they had hired a guitarist, Cliff Cultreri, and the avant-garde dance music group Material was born. [...]


Material soon became a loosely formed group centered on Laswell and Beinhorn with a wide range of other performers. Eccentric English guitarist Fred Frith often worked with the group as did trumpeter Olu Dara, saxophonist Henry Threadgill, and vocalist Nona Hendryx. Material's music ranged widely by usually was accompanied by a strong dance/funk beat. Material's Busting Out, featuring Nona Hendryx on vocals, was a breakthrough hit in dance clubs.

Talking Heads

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the early 1980's in New York City, the Talking Heads were also experimenting with combining dance, funk and other sounds to come up with an edgy, danceable groove. Their 1980 album Remain in Light ventured into dense dance and funk grooves. Once in a Lifetime and Cross-Eyed and Painless were minor club hits. For their 1983 release Speaking in Tongues, they enlisted a strong roster of guests including Bernie Worrell, from the Parliament/Funkadelic tribe, on synthesizer and Nona Hendryx on backing vocals. The result was a dense, often danceable, stew of commentary on modern life. Burning Down the House was the memorable smash hit. [...]

Afrika Bambaata

In yet another part of New York City, hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaata was harnessing electronic, Kraftwerk-influenced, music to the beat of rap. He came up with the stunning Planet Rock which helped create what became known as the hip-hop nation. The funk of Parliament and Rick James, cool synthesized melodies of Kraftwerk, and rap vocals were welded together for a new sound that was unmistakably city. [...]

Rockit and World Destruction

Two dance recordings from 1984 brought New York avant-garde dance music to a climax. Herbie Hancock's ground-breaking blend of jazz, scratch mixing, and electronic dance music, Rockit was produced by Material and featured Bill Laswell and Michael Beinhorn. Rockit was a massive club hit and received multiple honors for the music and its innovative video. World Destruction by Time Zone brought together Afrika Bambaata and ex-Sex Pistols lead singer John Lydon with Bernie Worrell's synthesizer for a funky, noisy, apocalyptic New York dance mix. The avant-garde New York music continues to flourish, but dance music is no longer a central unifying force among avant-garde musicians. -- Bill Lamb

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