Derrick Carter | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Of Chicago's many house DJs, probably the most popular--in town, in the country, in the world--is Derrick Carter. In fact, he's become something of an ambassador for both the city and the style. A DJ since age 13 (spinning at the Basement) and a former buyer for local dance emporium Gramophone Records, Carter currently runs the Classic label with fellow producer and DJ Luke Solomon; last summer the pair issued Thanks for Coming By...(Classic), a double-CD mix of catalog highlights, and in October, Philadelphia's 611 Records put out the Carter-helmed "About Now...": Sixeleven DJ Mixseries V.3. On both releases Carter comes across as an irresistible party starter with a wicked sense of pacing. Of the two, Thanks is a little narrower in its track selection, but Carter establishes a groove early with cuts by Herbert and Underground Culture Tourist, then takes off with DJ Bang's "DJ Bang Make You Jiu-Jitsu"--in which a driving, old-fashioned barrelhouse piano figure switches over to a synth, creating an utterly modern sound that underlines house's affinities with much earlier forms of dance music. The 611 comp opens with a sound bite from The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman ("The proclamation papers just come down to me, and they say y'all as free as I am") and segues into the diva wail of Money Chocolate's "Keep the Love"; the disc's first half is as fiercely joyful as any DJ set I've heard in the past year. Even its jazzy touches--like the luxe keyboard riff of Kojak's "You Can't Stop It" or the horns on Eddie & the Eggs' "Me & My Watermelon"--aren't so much supper-club smooth as late-night jam-session nasty. And Carter tries out an entertaining variety of vocal styles, spelling the usual soul testifying with the stoned-robot muttering of Stan de Mareuil et L'anglais' "Le rocher" and the Oscar the Grouch soundalike chanting on Palmer Brown & Blaze's "More Than Gold." Thursday, April 25, 10 PM, Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-4140.

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