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DJ Ender 

Part of Nitty Gritty. Saturday, December 6, at Touch Supper Club.

DJ Ender
  • DJ Ender

Face it. If it weren't for cats like Miles Davis, Art Blakey, and Freddie Hubbard, white folks would never know what they're missing. It was black musicians such as these that inspired Helsinki's Hannu Nieminen, aka DJ Ender, to take a hand in the growth of the Finnish music scene during the late '80s and early '90s. True, during the latter decade, it was a new generation of black musicians, such as Derrick May, Juan Atkins, and Carl Craig -- the Detroit natives widely regarded as the creators of techno music -- who fueled Nieminen's fire to become DJ Ender and start importing deep techno and acid house into Finnish clubs on a weekly basis.

But as the '90s wore on and Nieminen started producing his own dance records, along with fellow Finnish taste-maker Tuomas Kallio, jazz started tightening its grip on him.

By 1998, Nieminen and Kallio had pulled in DJs Lil' Tony and Eppu and keyboard wiz Kasio in order to form Nuspirit Helsinki, and the core quintet shifted their efforts toward integrating sample-based music and such classic forms as jazz, soul, and funk, with the goal of broadening dance music's horizons. The group's self-titled 2002 debut is the high-water mark of this nu-jazz movement in dance music: a stunning amalgam of soulful crooning, funky, rump-shaking electronics, and fiery live instrumentation provided by a stellar cast of guests, playing everything from the Fender Rhodes to the flugelhorn.

For DJ Ender to duplicate this orchestral splendor when he "Touch"es down on Saturday would be asking the impossible. Ender does display a reverence for the classics when he DJs, though, tossing genre loyalties out the window and finding ways to intertwine dance gems that possess soul, funk, and jazzy flair, not just a four-on-the-floor beat.

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