Cassio James Vincent Ware II was born in Newark. This was great news for the world as it meant he crossed paths with two other New Jersey natives, Kevin Hedge and Josh Milan of Blaze. As a gift of fate, Kevin, Josh and Cassio got together in a studio with vocalist Sajaeda and wrote and recorded the song “Fantasy”. In 1994, Freddy Sanon’s Shelter Records released “Fantasy” as a 12 inch with four versions of the song.
In many ways, their collaboration has served as a blueprint for two decades worth of Deep House. Specifically, the “Klubhead Track Dub” has motifs that have been imitated so many times they now seem cliche. The string and electric piano intro, the continually morphing vocals, the rolling bass line, the lead synthesizer with notes melting one into the next using a pitch bend wheel – these elements now seem like a How To guide for writing Deep House, but were groundbreaking and heartfelt when originally composed.
Blaze have written too many memorable songs to recount but it’s important to understand why “Fantasy” is a classic despite never achieving the commercial success of tracks like “Lovelee Dae” or “My Beat”. In 1994, labels like Sandy Rivera’s Blackwiz, Chez Damier and Ron Trent’s Prescription, Gladys Pizarro’s Strictly Rhythm and Cajmere’s Cajual Records were at the peak of their relevance. “Fantasy” was a prime example of the aesthetic of that moment in time. Its unassuming simplicity allowed for Blaze’s musicianship to shine through. Studio polish was harder to come by 18 years ago and we can be thankful for that. With more gratuitous tools at their disposal Kevin, Josh and Cassio might have smoothed and shined the emotional grit right out of their masterpiece.
Review by Mazi.