Mark Farina

For more than a decade, San Francisco DJ Mark Farina has been a prominent figure on the house scene. Of course, this shouldn't be surprising, considering he got his start in the late '80s playing in his native Chicago, which has long been one of the premiere house music cities, and that Chi-town mix master (and record hunter) Derrick Carter was the one who, in part, guided the fresh-faced Farina toward some of the day's most cutting-edge tracks. But Chi-town was not yet ready for Farina's soon-to-be-trademark "Mushroom Jazz" sound, which contained deep, soulful and jazzy melodies, funky beats and curiously moving samples, so he set off for the city by the bay in search of house music's more dubby, organic qualities. The timing couldn't have been better. The West Coast's acid jazz scene was just blossoming; Farina and his weekly down-tempo "Mushroom Jazz" club night quickly became one of the city's hottest dance parties.

Farina was catapulted into the international spotlight in 1996, after SF's Om Records released the first of the now five-volume Mushroom Jazz series. (Volume five was released last year.) Although he's still the shining star on Om's roster, Farina's latest double-CD mix, Sessions, comes to us from the Ministry of Sound UK -- a defining venue and label that truly marks the pinnacle of success for the world's most important DJs. He is flawless on the decks, and his boundary-crossing tracks should keep you feeling the groove well into the early morning.

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Travis Ritter