When it comes to modern funk, there are two bands that are constantly pushing the limits of the genre, and they both shared the stage for a massive fall tour. Turkuaz and The New Mastersounds spanned every corner of the country on the 45-date tour, and it couldn’t have been more successful.
The nine-piece outfit Turkuaz, out of Brooklyn, New York, have spent a lot of time on the road in 2016, including an appearance at the coveted Lockn’ Festival in Virginia, and they are rightfully gaining more recognition. Blending pop, funk, gospel and R&B, they stand alone as a powerhouse in today’s funk circuit. Complete with all-matching “Members Only” jackets and synchronized choreography, this band keeps crowds dancing and smiling all night.
There is no better place to close down a tour than at The Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina, and it seemed that every single person in the crowd was grooving until the late hours of the night. The two shining stars of Turkuaz may be the female vocalists, Sammi Garett and Shira Elias, and the combination of their powerful voices with the extremely strong horn section really makes this band shine. The Peel quickly filled up as the band got started right at 9 p.m. with a funky “Typa-like,” and later really showed their musical prowess with the title track from their most recent album “Digitonium.” This song featured a very funky bass line from Taylor Shell, reminiscent of the slap-bass heard so often in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Later on, the band kept the party going with crowd favorites such as “Don’t Do It” and “Nightswimming.”
The highlight of the set by Turkuaz was definitely toward the end, with “Lookin’ Tough > Drums > Feelin’ Good.” Every member in the band was given a chance to shine in this concluding jam, and the crowd loved every second of it. Even blending in some hard rock psychedelia, it showed that this band really had no boundaries. What really stood out was their flawless transitions from heavy horns by Greg Sanderson and Josh Schwartz on sax. Ending with a great “M’Lady,” Turkuaz left it all on the stage to finish an epic tour.
After the huge set from Turkuaz, it was hard to believe that The New Mastersounds were about to play a full set. The jazz quartet, hailing from the U.K., kept the party going in dramatic fashion. Opening with three well-known hits, “Monday Meters,” “Way Out West,” and “MRG,” the crowds feet kept moving and the jams kept grooving. The wild thing was that the band didn’t even have their original drummer, as they had subbed in special guest Alan Evans of Soulive and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. He didn’t miss a beat, and it complemented well with the nasty licks from Eddie Roberts on guitar and Joe Tatton on keys.
The best part of the night, without a doubt, was when the two bands collaborated as one on stage. Primarily an instrumental band, the Mastersounds combined with the smooth vocals of Turkuaz was really a sight to behold. After several songs, the band welcomed Schwartz to sing on “Will it Go ‘Round in Circles,” and they kept the guests coming as the set went on. The next song, “I Am Somebody,” featured some nasty tenor saxophone from Sanderson of Turkuaz; the crowd was truly being spoiled. Later, The New Mastersounds brought out Garett for some smooth vocals on “Turn this Thing Around.” It’s hard to beat a strong, powerful female vocal with smooth, jazzy, funk fusion. Both sax players sat in on “Jan Jan,” as Roberts was absolutely shredding on the guitar. The ladies continued to stay on stage for a powerful “Never Did I Ever,” with a slightly slower tempo to really emphasize the two vocalists’ range.
Toward the end of the show, The Peel was nothing short of a raging dance party, and the last song, “One Note Brown,” was the perfect closer, bringing an all-encompassing reggae vibe and featuring solos from all the members of the band. Ending with a phenomenal jam encore with both full bands on stage, it was truly a night to remember. Roberts said that this had been the most fun tour of his life, and it really showed. The two bands could not have been more dialed in for the closing date.
Turkuaz now looks forward to a two-night headlining gig in Providence, Rhode Island for New Year’s Eve with support from Kung Fu, Moon Hooch, and West End Blend. It’ll be really fun to see what the future holds for these two incredible bands.