By Laurel Brown
This past Thursday, March 24, I had the opportunity to see two amazing powerfunk-jazz groups perform at The Haunt, a small bar and concert venue located in Ithaca, New York. Turkuaz, the headlining group, sold over 170 presale tickets alone – quite the feat for a band of their status.
A 9-piece powerfunk group from Brooklyn, NY, Turkuaz finds their inspiration at the intersection of pop, R&B, soul, and funk. According to their website, they sound like “the musical love child of Sly & the Family Stone and Talking Heads.”
Each member dressed in a unique color (imagine someone in all blue, another in all purple, another in all white, etc.) while rainbow stage lighting flashed through the foggy, crowded room, creating a fun, high-energy atmosphere for an audience with fans of all ages.
The band played songs from their last album Digitonium, released in 2015, as well as new songs that will be on their forthcoming album, which should be out in late 2017.
Throughout their two-hour set, Turkuaz remained groovy and synchronized, layering vocals for a soulful vibe backed by a hard-driven brass section. Some songs sounded more like classic rock and others kept up with a wavy funk style and powerful horns, but each tune undeniably kept the crowd dancing, smiling, and drinking.
However, Turkuaz was not the group that grabbed my attention Thursday night. It was in fact the opener, Organ Freeman, that I was thrilled to have witnessed perform. A bluesy, funky, jazz trio out of Los Angeles, the openers took the stage at 9 and played a solid hour of unapologetic electrified jazz.
Powered by a hard-and-fast-hitting drummer and weepy guitar shreds, Organ Freeman took rock and jazz to new levels with such scattered techniques I find it hard to pinpoint their genre, or even narrow down their musical influences.
Wah-wah pedals and jazzy organ runs took place of any vocals or lyrics, and the guitarist doubled as a solid bassist too, walking lines that kept up with remarkably quick tempos from the drummer. In homage to true jazz form, the members tossed control of the songs back and forth, each taking the melody on completely new runs.
The percussion instruments added perfect variation to each 8-12 minute song, including a cowbell, tambourine, and several giant cymbals. A combination of Travis Barker’s speedy flicks and Louis Vecchio’s hard-hitting, high-energy style, Organ Freeman’s drummer expertly maneuvered each song and maintained such quick time throughout their set that he clearly stood out as the backbone of their live performance.
While they had no lyrics, their song titles were entertaining and random, some of which included “Putin and I Get Along Just Fantastic,” “Go By Richard, Not By Dick,” and “The Green Green Grapes.” Organ Freeman was passionate and loud, definitely earning a spot on my Do-Not-Miss-Them-Live list.
Thanks to Turkuaz and Organ Freeman, the audience was overwhelmed with a high-energy night and endless jazz tunes wrapped up with pretty lights and good company. Check out The Haunt’s website to learn about upcoming concerts!