Zongo Junction is generating a well-deserved buzz in NYC’s burgeoning afrobeat scene. The ensemble blends West African rhythms with funk, jazz and soul. True to their inspiration, Nigerian superstar, political activist and afrobeat pioneer Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the outfit excites dance floors wherever they perform.
The critics agree. “The only thing Zongo Junction has to do to start a legitimate dance party is show up and plug in…anyone within a square block earshot of this Ford-tough funk factory would be hard pressed not to join in the hoopla,” says the Bay Area’s SF Station. “Sheer energy, with a brawny horn section that played unison lines with the force of a tractor-trailer and a rhythm section that roared with power and noise.” Says the Village Voice.
The band, 12 pieces in total, has toured extensively throughout the East and West coats. Including a sold out show at Slim’s in San Francisco on December 30, 2010, a Monday night residency at Brooklyn Bowl in June 2011 and a recent tour supporting Asheville, NC heavyweights, Toubab Krewe.
The band released their debut album Thieves! on December 30, 2010. As afrobeat music has always done, the album speaks truth-to-power with humor and soul. The album’s five original songs feature long-time Fela Kuti band member, Leon Kaleta Ligan-Majek, on vocals.
Members of the band have performed or recorded with: TV on the Radio, Easy Star All Stars, The Walkmen, and many more.
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Born as a side project by co-founders Dave Brandwein and Taylor Shell, Turkuaz was formed in Boston in February 2008. Unbeknownst to Dave and Taylor, a demo of theirs had been submitted to Berklee College of Music’s Heavy Rotation Records by a friend. Heavy Rotation immediately added Turkuaz to their annual showcase at the Berklee Performance Center. Dave and Taylor formed the current 10-piece band from amongst their musician friends. Turkuaz’s first show was to 1,000 people at the BPC and was met with rave reviews. After 8 months in the Boston music scene, the band migrated as a whole to Brooklyn, with the intention of bringing their brand of funk to New York.
Turkuaz is known throughout the city and the northeast as the band that plays louder, faster, and harder than all the rest. The stage show is electric. With two independent album releases, west coast and east coast tours, a solid and ever growing NYC fanbase, and the desire to only get bigger, Turkuaz continues to sell out venues from San Francisco to Manhattan. They plan on perfecting their brand and continuing their upward trajectory at concerts and festivals across the country.
What do you get when you mix a poppin’ boogaloo beat, a chilled-out dub bassline delivered via the airy whump of a sousaphone, and some Jamaican nyabingi-jazz vis-à-vis a few layers of synth and horns? Buru Style!
For the past several years the New England and New York based group has worked as an instrumental unit and has also backed great soul and reggae vocalists such as Toussaint Liberator, Ajahni, Shasha Marley and Lady Lee. They’ve performed at major jazz and reggae festivals, in theaters, clubs, and public schools, even gone mobile and marched for community events in Middletown, CT where their founder Bill Carbone teaches music at Wesleyan University. These days, they mix it up, performing both experimental dub instrumental shows and powerhouse progressive dancehall sets with Ajahni. Both styles can be heard in happy cohabitation on their latest album Eponymous.