Review – Deep Fever Winter Wonderland w/ Henry Wu
Jazz, far from being the the inaccessible music of intellectuals or a relic to be found in your dad’s record collection, is absolutely central to electronic music. It is the point of origin in its grand narrative, which has, over 100 years, taken the genre’s sounds and structures, and moulded them into what we are familiar with today. DJs always testify to this (Gilles Peterson and MCDE have discussed it), and albums like Jan Jelinek’s Loop Finding Jazz Records or 2015’s The Epic by Kamasi Washington (released on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder label) prove that jazz forms an essential strand of electronic music’s DNA.
It is quite odd to be opening a review of Deep Fever, a night hopelessly devoted to thumping house, with such a retrospective discussion. But it makes sense when in steps Henry Wu, and Bradley Zero’s record label Rhythm Section, who, through a feverish love of crate digging, retro aesthetics and inventive production, have been forging a jazzy zeitgeist over the past year or two.
Wu specifically is the man of the moment, pretty much ubiquitous on the scene right now. Whether that be as a virtuosic keys player in his Yussef kamaal trio (who set Hifi alight recently), phenomenal producer of tasty jazz-house records or DJ. Deep Fever brought him to Wire as the latter, and, in doing so, coloured the club’s usual darkness with brighter shades from the groovy side of things.
As incense swirled among the relaxed crowd, Henry Wu cultivated a similarly wonderful, whimsical sound. As well as spinning gnarly deep house to pump up proceedings, there were more nuanced selections. Funkadelic’s (Not Just) Knee Deep elicited an ecstatic response, as did Peven Everett’s ‘Stuck’, and tracks by Kaidi and Herbie Hancock were enough to make you weak at the knees.
If a normal night at Wire is a mammoth, food-coma-inducing Sunday Roast, this was a hearty winter broth: loose, wholesome, and multifarious. At times, it was strange not to get lost in the persistent grooves of a carefully crafted house or techno mix. But who says that is a necessary requirement for a party? Henry Wu was clearly having loads of fun, and, by the end of his set, people started to align and groove with this refreshing approach. Awanto 3’s Pregnant had the place in a gorgeous, meditative state at the close, and, once again, it was clear that the Deep Fever gang had nailed it.