Short Cuts: Mark Farina’s “Mushroom Jazz 6”

Mark Farina
Mushroom Jazz 6
Om Records

In 1992, at the height of the acid jazz movement, Mark Farina organized the Mushroom Jazz parties in San Francisco. Years later, he began his Mushroom Jazz mix series for Om Records, memorializing that party’s easygoing blend of jazzy grooves and hip-hop beats. Ten years after the first installment, the Mushroom Jazz series sounds like an anachronism, a document of an era that no longer exists.

So for Mushroom Jazz 6, Farina gives no ground to the progressive beat renaissance overtaking California’s production scene. He mostly sticks to new and unreleased cuts, but the records he uses – songs from Colossus, Kero One, J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science – have breezy, melodic grooves that evoke a timeless aspect of West Coastin’. (One exception, “Bodysnatchin’” by the criminally underrated Chicago group Rubberoom, really is a 90s artifact.) Meanwhile, Farina’s mix is clean and unobtrusive. He mostly uses instrumentals, weaving them together with smooth blends and occasional dropouts. Sometimes he’ll drop the bass out of a track and use the echo effect, making the vocals dip in and out like a friendly ghost. Choice37’s “Way Back When” sticks out: “I remember way back when/Back in the day.”

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