Generating a well-deserved buzz in NYC’s exploding afrobeat scene, Zongo Junction electrifies dance floors wherever they perform. The Village Voice describes their live show as “Sheer energy with the force of a tractor-trailer that roars with power and noise.” With five horns, and a six-piece rhythm section, audiences can’t help but move no matter where the band is playing.
If the Talking Heads produced a Fela Kuti record of Sun Ra’s music, the product would probably sound something like Brooklyn’s Zongo Junction, and in an industry where it has become commonplace to watch bands perform with laptops & backing tracks instead of live musicians, Zongo Junction takes the stage 11 strong. "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.
Zongo Junction formed in 2009, when drummer and California native, Charles Ferguson, returned from a six-month stay in Ghana, West Africa. “Growing up in the Bay Area, I was exposed to a lot of amazing music from many different cultures, a lot of which had roots in West Africa. As a kid, a few different music teachers introduced me to afrobeat, and the pioneers of the genre—Fela Kuti, Tony Allen, OJ Ekemode, Sunny Ade and others. My love of African music brought me to Ghana in 2008 and when I returned to New York, I knew I wanted to start this band.”
In college at the New School, Charles and a classmate put together a list of friends who they thought would be good fits for the band. Soon after they started rehearsing, Zongo Junction began performing and developing a following in East Coast clubs. They made their first album, Thieves! (2010), which included a collaboration with longtime Fela Kuti band member, Leon Kaleta Ligan-Majek, and quickly began performing at venues & festivals around the country including a residency at Brooklyn Bowl, a main stage performance at the Bear Creek Music & Arts Festival in Florida, and an appearance at the Kennedy Center in DC. More recently the band has collaborated with FELA! cast member Abena Koomson. Members of the band have performed or recorded with TV On The Radio, Man Man, Easy Star All-Stars and The Walkmen, among others.
The band is hard at work recording their second album, scheduled for release in 2013. “In writing this music as a collective, a lot of really cool new influences have emerged,” points out tenor saxophonist Adam Schatz. The music on the album embraces the individual members’ interests, from Dirty Projectors, to Albert Ayler, Wu Tang to Meshuggah. At the music’s core, you will always find the infectiously danceable West African grooves that are the foundation of Zongo Junction. The band effortlessly ties it all together, resulting in a unique version of afrobeat.
For more information visit www.zongojunction.net or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Zongo Junction is:
David Lizmi - Bass
Charles Ferguson - Drums
Morgan Greenstreet - Percussion
Jordan Hyde - Guitar
Ross Edwards - Keys
Adam Schatz - Tenor Saxophone
Matt Nelson - Tenor Saxophone
Jonah Parzen-Johnson - Baritone Saxophone
Aaron Rockers - Trumpet
Kevin Moehringer - Trombone
Turkuaz is a 9-piece power funk 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 Earth, Wind & Fire—as the basis for a recipe, Turkuaz adds healthy doses of jittery, world-pop-dance groove—reminiscent of Remain In Light era Talking Heads—and a passion for Motown and R&B into the mix, resulting in a refreshing twist on the funk idiom that could be described as part freight train and part tyrannosaurus rex.
Credible bios are supposed to be objective and not full of superlatives and hyperbole, but it’s hard to avoid gushing when the subject is a group of multi-instrumentals and singers that is who—even on an off night—can blow away a room on the basis of sheer physics alone. Turkuaz certainly does have size in their favor, but when broken down into the basic components, each stands out on their own. Founders Dave Brandwein and Taylor Shell had the cream of the crop to choose from at Berklee, but making it happen as a large touring ensemble takes more than chops: it takes the right blend of personalities. When Turkuaz takes the stage the chemistry is clear. The special combination of elements—singers in sequined dresses, guys in tails (or sometimes all of them in jumpsuits or other complimentary outfits) horns, keys, guitars, amps and drums and smiles all around… well, it’s easy to get caught up in the explosive auditory and visual circus and find oneself dancing. Despite all of the gear and people on stage, it is becomes clear that it is not the size that matters here: it is soul and performance.
Through constant touring and great festival performances, Turkuaz has built a solid, passionate coast-to-coast fan base that grows with every mile driven and each night on stage. Starting in the Fall of 2013, the band embarked on an ambitious campaign that included releasing an album of cover songs, a live record and two studio videos—all released on Holidays—culminating on the April 1, 2014 release of their third studio album of original music, Future 86. They are currently criss-crossing North America and have plans to conquer the world… or at least shake the walls and all the booties in every room they play…
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.