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‘Minneapolis Sound’ creator hits the streets of Toronto

First with André Cymone and Prince in the group Grand Central, then later with the Time, Morris Day is one of the key architects of the “Minneapolis Sound.” The vain character Day plays on stage — he’s often seen checking his look in a mirror held by his valet — made him the perfect rival for Prince in the films Purple Rain and Graffiti Bridge.

Both musically and visually, the Time are the key influence behind Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ megahit “Uptown Funk.”

Morris Day and the Time play a free show at Nathan Phillips Square at 6:30 p.m. Friday as part of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival. Here are four things you need to know about the band.

1. Seeds of success

“We were performance-oriented from Day 1. Nowadays people create their music in their bedrooms, or in their studio. Ours came from performance, because we created it live. We were young — I’m going back to Grand Central — we played like we were in our 20s but we were 15-year-olds. We were always voted most likely to succeed.”

2. Blame Mother Nature

“I always blame a lot of what happened in Minneapolis on long winters. The weather wasn’t conducive to being outside and getting in trouble. We had limited urban music access. We listened to a lot of pop songs and got to like a lot of pop songs and that was integrated into our thought process when we wrote. We started using the synths as what would normally be a horn line. It got to be a thing with us and it turned into the sound we developed.”

3. The double-edged sword of ‘influence’

“I definitely see the attitude and influence. I’m impressed with it and I’m definitely glad it came along. It sparked a lot of conversation and controversy. We came out of it pretty good. Even at the BRIT awards, Mark Ronson gave a personal thanks to Morris Day and the Time as he accepted his award. That’s pretty big. That put us out there in a good way.”

4. A mutually beneficial relationship

“When I put the band together, Prince and I basically had a deal where we’d exchange some music and I’d get a record deal out of it, but no money. He used to really push us to make solid stage performances. He got a jump-start on us, so he was guiding us through. Most of my antics, and a lot of the things I did, were things he absorbed from watching me. I’m sure he learned a good bit.”