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Yet onstage looks just as packed, with 15 members of the Brooklyn disco band Escort—a procession of horns, violins, percussion, guitars, keys, and backup singers—having filed out and jostled for space. Dimitri From Paris played it. Up until that summer day, Escort had been only a studio creation; its members had never all been in the same place at the same time. Our singer at the time, Zena Kitt, had never played for a crowd before, and then all of a sudden, we were standing before 3, people.
As sudden as that initial success might have been, it has taken Escort five years to put the finishing touches on their self-titled debut album, which was just released and is being celebrated with a Saturday-night show thrown with the party promoters Spank.
Our friend Prince Language was at le poisson rouge, so we took a CD-R of the just-finished track for him to play in the middle of his set. And last night, we walked down to subMercer where Quinn Luke [of fellow disco big band Phenomenal Handclap Band] was spinning. Upon graduation, the two went their separate ways: Cho went on the road with a ska band while Balis relocated to New York City. Instead of just cutting up samples, why not just write precisely the kind of music we wanted in the first place?
Only those symphonic strings, brass constructions, intergalactic synth lines, and cavernous drum-circle breakdowns were wholly fabricated on tape. These tracks foregrounded a powerful singer from London named Zena Kitt, whose voice evoked those of divas like Gwen Guthrie and Donna Summer.
Around the time that Escort decided to put their energy into recording a full album, though, she struck out on her own. At the time, I was in a live instrumentation hip-hop soul group, but I wanted to have a bit more. The whip-smart pop of Chic, August Darnell, and Prince wiggles in all of their grooves, which also possess the sleek and pliant qualities crafted by the likes of nu-disco producers like Metro Area and Daniel Wang. Lording over the band, though, is one particular pop monster.