French disco legend Cerrone touches down at Smart Bar | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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French disco legend Cerrone touches down at Smart Bar

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UPDATE Monday, September 23, 12:55 PM: The Cerrone concert has been canceled. Refunds available at point of purchase.

Disco and pop music would be diminished had French drummer, producer, composer, and bandleader Marc Cerrone never taken an interest in dance music. In the early 70s, he got his first taste of fame as a founding member of Kongas, which melded Afropop rhythms, South American percussion, limber funk, and early disco in dance-driven rock singles. After leaving that group in the mid-70s, Cerrone began a colorful solo career that would soon see him take disco to an extravagant creative peak. The audacious, orchestral title track of his debut, the privately pressed 1976 LP Love in C Minor, lasts more than 16 minutes and fills the record’s entire first side. After a box of the LPs accidentally got sent to New York, the song became a hit on the city’s underground dance scene, which convinced Cerrone to pursue a stateside deal with Atlantic. In the late 70s that label released a couple more Cerrone solo albums in the States that helped cement not only the sound of disco but also its sexualized playfulness and irreverent flamboyance. His music was luxurious but never gaudy, though the gratuitous drum fills on “Sweet Drums” (off 1977’s Cerrone 3: Supernature) ought to dispel any suggestion that he cared about restraint. Cerrone’s career has never returned to the peak he enjoyed during disco fever, but he’s kept plugging away and finding new audiences. By the time European label Because Music released the 2015 retrospective The Best of Cerrone Productions, he’d found a new niche as a DJ—and he’s taken quite a liking to it. “DJing has opened up the big festivals to me,” Cerrone told Crack magazine. “I played a festival with 60,000 people there, and it was like being 20 again.”   v

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