Thankfully, the improvisational event known as "Horns and Vinyl" (at Habana each Thursday night) is a certified hippie-free jam session. Combining traditional instrumentation with wax manipulation, the always-evolving group of local musicians performs for a crowd that ranges from fringe/experimental music lovers and a few hiphop heads to the "coffee shop chicks and white dudes" contingent mentioned in that Roots joint.
Projected visual effects, strong drinks, and the occasional fire show lend a hallucinatory aura to the event, but the futuristic sounds are the super-glue that holds the night together, steering away from the cut 'n' paste feel of many multimedia events. The intrepid musicians blend almost-jazz with ill turntablistic flavor, and for the most part avoid the eternal, two-chord-vamp feel that often permeates the aforementioned hippie gatherings. The lineup rotates weekly, falling somewhere between the Meters and Steve Coleman on any given night. Regardless of the roster, the sound often leans toward lush, horn-driven vibes that are tight and in the pocket, yet always interesting.
The "Vinyl" part of the night's title is controlled by DJs WD4D and Dice of the Phat Trak Feenz DeeJay Crew. By finding inventive ways to add to the mix without overpowering it, the DJs enhance the vibe and push the other players in new directions. Managing to slide their turntable styles in and around the "traditional" instruments, they show that they have ears for miles.
In fact, the element that sets this event apart from your average hiphop jam session is the players' collective focus on the groove. Each musician seems to know his place, and the feel remains strong and solid without sliding into "me first"-style one-upsmanship. This is refreshing, and when witnessed in the context of a wide-open jam session, doubly so.