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…
Alan Evans' Playonbrother
When Alan is not behind the kit rockin’ a show, most likely he’s putting something together somewhere - or maybe taking it apart. Alan is a builder – that simply who he is. Whether it’s a band, a studio or a website – Alan builds it. And that doesn’t mean calling a contractor or a programmer. Alan rents the space, designs the layout, buys the lumber, assembles the gear, wires the rooms, builds the isolation chambers and, oh yeah, produces and mixes the records. He buys the URLs, gathers the content, takes the photos and movies, encodes the backend and launches the site. Of course, he is best known for playing drums in Soulive – a band he founded and that has toured the world over and again. He has shared the stage with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Chaka Khan, from Dave Matthews to John Scofield. To the outside, he is a world-renowned drummer, respected by fans and musicians alike and that is a big part of his story. To those who know him well, there is another part of his story. Alan has come to define the modern concept of the renaissance man – a man, known for a certain skill, but equally adept at many others – husband, father, builder, producer, engineer, web designer, guitarist, keyboardist and creative conceptualist.
Alan grew up in Buffalo, NY in the 1980’s. There were strong musical influences in Alan’s life from the very beginning. To say that the Evans family is musical is to say that the Kennedy family has a proclivity for politics. The record player spun in the Evans household the way the TV blared in many other homes. Alan’s father, Willie, and his older brother, Rod, played DJ and the assembly of vinyl they accrued was broad and vast. Miles Davis, Jimmy Smith, Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Kool & the Gang, Jimi Hendrix, the Headhunters – these were just some of the sounds emanating out of the Evans living room.
In fact, Willie, was a drummer himself. He had a Silver Sparkle 54 Gretch kit in the basement. Alan grew up listening to his dad playing along to records on that kit. Eventually, Alan would descend to the basement and follow in his father’s ritual. When Alan got good enough, he inherited the kit and took that very same kit on the road for years.
Alan’s musical journey is inextricably intertwined with his brother, Neal. A few years younger, Neal became a prodigious pianist, vibes player, and eventually gravitated towards the Hammond B-3 organ. At the age of 12, Alan started gigging out around town. Within years, Neal and Alan were playing real jazz gigs at clubs around Buffalo. In those days, Elvin Jones and Tony Williams were Alan’s Gods. It was later, when Alan began to dive into guitar, that he discovered funk and rock musicians just had a lot more fun.
The history of Soulive – now 13 years old – has been widely told. It has been an incredible journey with much promise still ahead. It’s hard to believe that with all of the records and tours, Alan, Neal and Eric are still in their early 30s. Alan’s career pre-dates Soulive. He and Neal were two-thirds of Moonboot Lover, a popular band in the mid-90’s and Alan toured heavily with Karl Denson after that.
While Alan’s musical pedigree is clear, his other accomplishments may say as much about him as his strictly musical ones. No one taught Alan how to mix a record or, literally, build a
studio. His dad wasn’t Bill Gates, programming late into the night. He didn’t go to business school to learn how to run a successful studio. While Alan may have an innate sense of how to pop the hood and check the transmission, it is his intellectual curiosity and uniquely American entrepreneurial spirit that pushes him to discover and execute. Most recently, Alan has designed and built a studio from scratch in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. Alan is the chief engineer and producer at the studio and is working on a wide array of projects. The studio has become production HQ for all Royal Family Records projects – Alan and Soulive’s record label venture. Alan is also now focusing on his new band, the Alan Evans Trio with guitarist Danny Mayer and organist Beau Sasser. The trio is all set to record a brand new album of Alan's original music this February and begin touring in the spring of 2012.
It is amazing that, with the mind of a scientist, Alan drums the ways he does. His sound is powerful but never at the expense of emotion. The sound of Soulive is so particular – hard driving and grooving and Alan is at the very epicenter of that. When Alan gets a solo, however, there is a window into another side – darker, more introspective and nuanced. Alan manages to take his empirical understanding of things and make it meaningful. He knows how to infuse emotion into knowledge. It seems like he can move into a space where he can forget about all he’s learned and rely on instinct. This is very rare.
As Soulive turns 13 and the music business is adrift at sea, there are challenges for every musician to face. Alan has managed to quietly stay one step ahead. Soulive may be Alan’s Mona Lisa. But like da Vinci, the world’s most famous polymath, Alan has developed skills and knowledge beyond his most famous work. With a full arsenal, he pushes ahead – never missing a beat.
Danny Mayer is a self-taught guitarist who began playing music at the age of 14. Originally from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Mayer has lived in and migrated through places like New Hampshire; Vermont; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Gainesville, Florida. However, it wasn’t until he made his way west, to Santa Cruz, California, that Mayer set about pursuing his musical passion as a career.
In 2006, Mayer formed On The Spot (OTS) Trio with keyboardist Kris Yunker and drummer Emery Nelson. On The Spot Trio, now with Jeff Wilson on drums, has grown into a widely recognized, nationally touring, Hammond Organ-driven funk trio. They recorded their first album, “Straight Out The Garden” in 2009, with Soulive’s Alan Evans at the controls. OTS Trio returns in 2012 with “Shag,” another collaboration with Evans as producer and guest musician. Mayer is also a member of 7 Come 11, another Santa Cruz-based Hammond Organ trio.
With a distinctive sound of his own, Mayer’s guitar stylings pay homage to some of the tastier jazz, soul, and rock players throughout the decades. Mayer’s philosophy is that intention, soul, personality, and emotional content are the elements that truly move people in music. Mayer is infinitely comfortable within the trio setting. He’s had the time and experience to develop his own musical voice, which he seamlessly integrates with his bandmates’ sound.
Danny has been forced to learn how to keep an audience’s attention with every solo, night after night, with steady residencies in Santa Cruz and San Francisco.
“To me, it’s all about feeling the room out, and feeding off the crowd,” describes Mayer. “You can start off slow and take your time, but eventually the goal is to fill the room up with energy, until it gets so full it feels like it’s about to explode. That’s when I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Beau Sasser hit the music scene at a young age, traversing the snowy highways of Colorado for gigs with his own band and performances with legends like John Denver and Jimmy Ibbotson of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. In the mid-90s Sasser headed east for a stint at Berklee College of Music and soon found himself back on the highways with the successful band Akashic Record. Around the year 2000 Sasser began performing almost exclusively on the Hammond Organ.
In addition to his tenure as Melvin Sparks’ preferred organist, Sasser leads his own trio whose residency at Bishop’s Lounge in Northampton, MA is now in its fifth year, and freelances like crazy.
Touring throughout the United States and internationally, Beau has shared the stage with Steely Dan, Michael MacDonald, Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire along with funk master Maceo Parker(James Brown), Mike Keneally(Frank Zappa) and jazz greats Medeski, Martin & Wood and Melvin Sparks.