Norman Jay

Desert Island Mix, Pt. 2

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While many DJs continuously strive to acquire the newest and hottest releases, an equally dedicated group looks in the opposite direction, exploring music's past in search for forgotten gems (some that were never known in the first place) to create their musical stew. Norman Jay is a figurehead to this contingent. He's credited with coining the term "rare groove," a scene and style particularly obsessed with excavating the dusty basement stacks of vinyl in an attempt to find that amazing old record that time forgot. This re-release finds Journeys By DJ performing its own sort of exploration of the past, albeit from a much more familiar source -- its own catalog. Originally pressed as part of a double-disc set with fellow rare groove aficionado Gilles Peterson in 1997, this single disc follows the re-pressing of Peterson's mix several months back. And while it might feel unpleasant dropping down two CDs' worth of money for what was once a double set, any buyer's remorse is quickly overcome by the swirling disco epic of Carl Davis & Chi-Sound Orchestra's "Windy City Theme." The flashing disco groove makes up a substantial part of the mix with unknown slabs by Voices of East Harlem and Family Tree. Jay intersperses the disco cuts with slightly less aged hip-hop by Red Cloud & Digital Hemp and breakdancing electro by Key Matic. Jay even goes so far as to invoke Hall & Oates, only in a technically archaic cut-up of the pop mega-hit "Man Eater." But Jay's musical ear isn't only tuned to 30 years ago. He smartly blends a modern house groove by Anorak Trax into Alexander Robotnick's Italo version of John Coltrane's seminal work, "A Love Supreme." The Ballistic Brothers (who once covered Robotnick's cover of Coltrane) represent some of Jay's contemporaries who revamp the old disco sound for a newer generation. It is this generation that is musically savvy enough to move with ease from the past to the present, a skill that Jay hones to near perfection on this mix.

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