TURKUAZ + SINKANE
128 Northeast Russell Street
Portland, OR, 97212
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
This event is 21 and over
Turkuaz is a 9-piece “Powerfunk” army hailing from Brooklyn, NY, whose modern twist on the classic sound has placed them at the forefront of a new funk evolution. With the obvious influences—Parliament, Sly & The Family Stone, Rick James and Zapp and Roger—as the basis for a recipe, Turkuaz adds healthy doses of Talking Heads inspired jittery, world-pop-dance grooves and a passion for The Beatles, Motown and R&B into the mix, resulting in a refreshing update to the funk idiom.
A universally appealing dance band at its core, Turkuaz’s tightly arranged songs are built on thick grooves, driven by a powerhouse rhythm section and interlaced with swirling guitar lines and synthy keyboard riffs. Over the top, lyrical jabs and swells that serve as both subject matter and rhythmic reinforcement are delivered by four distinct vocalists, framed by horn lines and punctuated with left hooks and right angles. Whereas there are certainly talented improvisers in this extremely musical band, Turkuaz engages bodies and minds with its densely layered compositions, setting the stage for the soaring exploratory guitar and horn solos with no room for noodling. This is perfect for those who want to dance. As for the “headier” crowd showing up for the “jams”—these die hard music lovers are always more than satiated by Turkuaz. They are transported by an irresistible groove, bowled over by a devastating solo and swept up in the impressionistic, occasionally Dadaesque and often seemingly free associative lyrics that—upon closer consideration—reveal unexpected depths of insight, mystery and wry humor in equal parts.
“…one of the 50 greatest live acts right now.”
“…wholly original music… a band built to crush it for years to come.”
~ San Diego Music Examiner
Since hitting the road in mid-2012, Turkuaz has been touring non-stop, amassing a solid, passionate coast-to-coast fan base that grows with every mile driven and each night on stage. This traveling circus is more than a live juggernaut, however: Turkuaz is remarkably prolific in the studio, as well, and continues to write fresh music, pushing their creative boundaries even as they are promoting a new release. On April 14, 2015, Turkuaz will release the Stereochrome EP (Techne Records), fifty-four weeks after presenting the highly successful independent album Future 86, their third full-length studio album of original music. Recorded at Brooklyn’s Galaxy Smith Studios on vintage gear and captured on 1/2 inch tape with analog production techniques, Stereochrome is both a reverent homage to the past and a look over the horizon at the dawning of a new day. The four tracks are all in their own ways tributes to some of Turkuaz’s favorite recording artists, from The Beatles to Ray Charles and The Band to James Brown, all of whom have had a profound influence on the Powerfunk sound that Turkuaz fans know today. In some ways, Stereochrome closes a door on this warm den where the greats recline on stuffed leather sofas like the gods and goddesses of a gilded age… and with the closing of that door, Stereochrome opens a portal to the future of the Powerfunk sound… a future that will be defined by the early Fall release of Turkuaz’s next full-length record: Digitonium…
Dave Brandwein – Lead & Backing Vocals / Guitar
Taylor Shell – Bass
Michelangelo Carubba – Drums
Craig Brodhead – Guitar / Synths
Josh Schwartz – Tenor & Baritone Sax / Lead & Backing Vocals / Percussion
Greg Sanderson – Alto & Tenor Sax / Backing Vocals / Percussion
Chris Brouwers – Trumpet / Keys / Backing Vocals / Percussion
Sammi Garett – Lead & Backing Vocals / Tambourine
Shira Elias – Lead & Backing Vocals
Sinkane music -- every note of it -- comes straight out of a generosity of spirit. Never has that spirit been on more vivid display than on the uplifting new album Life & Livin' It. This is feel-good music for trying times, celebrating what makes life good without ignoring what makes it hard.
By the time they finished touring for their acclaimed Mean Love album in late 2015, Ahmed Gallab and the band had spread the gospel of Sinkane to the world, playing 166 shows in 20 countries. During the same period, he had also led The Atomic Bomb Band -- the highly celebrated 15-piece outfit that played the music of elusive Nigerian electro-funk maestro William Onyeabor. The band included David Byrne, Damon Albarn, members of Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, Jamie Lidell and legendary jazz musicians Pharoah Sanders and Charles Lloyd, and they played all over the planet, including making their TV debut on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. "Those 14 months really changed my life," Ahmed says. "Not only did I learn how to put on a bigger show, but all that touring brought Sinkane closer as a band."
As Ahmed got into the depths of writing for Life & Livin' It, he had a clear goal; to conjure the ups and downs of a universal experience, and have fun while doing it. "I would listen to my favorite records, like Funkadelic's America Eats Its Young, and realize how great they made me feel. That carefree, light and fun feeling I was getting while writing this record is what I want everyone to feel when they listen to it."
Ahmed soon brought the band in to help with the material, testing the songs at a four-show residency of sold-out shows at Union Pool in Brooklyn where the audience's reception fed the creative process. They toured throughout the summer before setting up shop at Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso, Texas. Once again produced by Ahmed with lyrics and help from longtime collaborator Greg Lofaro, the album draws from the best elements of Sinkane's previous records: the slinky funk and soul grooves are there, so are the sparkling melodies with roots in sub-Saharan Africa. With basic tracking played together live, the fun and immediacy of Sinkane's live show is a central feeling of the recordings. Each one of the four members of Sinkane -- bassist Ish Montgomery, drummer Jason Trammell, guitarist Jonny Lam and Ahmed -- sing and contribute additional parts on the album, with Trammell contributing lyrics to "Theme from Life & Livin' It," and Lam helping with arrangements. Jas Walton and Jordan MacLean of Daptone recording artists Antibalas contributed horns.
In making a record that feels like this, Ahmed's primary intention was to make music that is joyous, but also socially conscious when you scratch beneath the surface. The songs "U'Huh" and "Theme from Life & Livin' It" conjure up the simple pleasures of hanging with friends, but there are heavier vibes in there. Ahmed says, "I remember listening to Bob Marley as a child. Dancing with my family in our living room and then my mother telling me what issues he was addressing, and that it was important to remember those things while listening. It made the music even better because it became about something more."
"Favorite Song" came about from Ahmed's experiences DJ'ing in New York. "As a DJ you're always paying attention to the collective energy in the club. When you play a song that everyone knows, everybody is connected, lost in the music." That song, along with "U'Huh," has lyrics sung in Arabic, Ahmed's native tongue. "Kulu shi tamaam!" means "everything is great!" while "ya zol ya zain!" is a Sudanese term of endearment meaning "my beautiful friend." "It's really easy to understand the tone of those words," Ahmed adds. "They just feel good, you don't have to know what they mean. It's kind of like listening to Caetano Veloso or Jorge Ben -- you don't have to know Portuguese to feel what they're saying."
True to its name, Life & Livin' It is an album about all kinds of experiences. When Ahmed Gallab sings, he sounds unafraid yet vulnerable. But while he once sang of feeling like he was on the planet Mars, Ahmed is now firmly grounded on Earth. He's no longer searching for his home -- he has created a home for himself. There's a party there, and Life & Livin' It is playing on the stereo. You are invited.