Steamboat Springs In 1985, 13-year-old Jason Kibler got the ultimate Christmas gift for a kid born and raised in the boogie-down Bronx: a set of Technics 1200 turntables.
Kibler began learning the arthritic art of spinning and scratching, and soon found himself providing the musical flavor for house parties all over the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan.
"I grew up in the projects and was the only kid that had turntables," Kibler said. "So by default, I became the house dee-jay for all the parties graduations, school dances, birthdays everything."
Two albums, numerous tours and 16 years later, Kibler's sensational spinning has become better known to the music world as the work of DJ Logic. Kibler leads a five-member crew known as Project Logic, with a sound described as a mix of classic funk, new school house, downtown jazz, old school hip-hop, DMC turntablism and drum and bass. The group will perform at 10 p.m. Tuesday at Level'z.
Kibler's sound caught the ear of drummer Richie Harrison at a high school dance. Intrigued, Harrison approached Kibler with the idea of infusing hip-hop into rock. Kibler came down for a rehearsal session and began scratching out sounds against Harrison's beats. The mix was magic, and Kibler became a full-time member of Harrison's fledgling band, Eye and I.
However, Kibler, who was also a top basketball prospect at Harlem's Rice High School, had a choice to make. With his tables turning him into a star, he declined several basketball scholarships to concentrate on his music. Sony's 550 label solidified his decision by signing Eye and I to a record deal.
Kibler needed a name. With the band on the road, opening for other acts, Kibler's reputation grew. He and Eye and I vocalist DK Dyson sat down one day and thumbed through a dictionary.
"DK looked down at the word 'logic,' looked up at me and just said 'logic that's you,'" Kibler said. "It was like that name had always been mine. It was just logical."
Kibler began to dabble in jazz, and other types of improvisational music in 1996, recording with artists Graham Haynes and Don Byron, and touring internationally. He played steadily as the unofficial fourth member of Medeski, Martin and Wood before deciding to go solo.
"Presenting Project Logic" was released in 1998 while Kibler was still touring with Medeski, Martin and Wood. A 10-month Project Logic tour of the country followed in 2000.
"Every good dee-jay has got his or her thing that makes him unique," Kibler said. "I like to think my thing is just playing live music with real musicians, being part of the band and being a good listener."
The mixmaster's live performances have been known to include covers of James Brown songs and Stevie Wonder numbers such as "Superstition" and "Higher Ground." Kibler often caters to the crowd and paces his music to the crowd's energy. A four-hour Project Logic show is not out of the ordinary.
Kibler and the rest of Project Logic released their second album, The Anomaly, on May 22. The 16-track effort has "everything from house to funk to hip-hop, jazz and dub, and some stuff that doesn't even have a name," Kibler said. "It doesn't really fit into any real definition of DJ culture or music."