In the music world, there are revivalists and re-enactors. Turkuaz is a little bit of both and a lot more.
The nine-piece soul/funk orchestra from Brooklyn, N.Y., revives and replicates a host of classic sights and sounds: Sly and the Family Stone, Parliament/Funkadelic, Ike and Tina Turner, James Brown, Joe Cocker. But Turkuaz fuses it with specific flavors and twists (some rock, some jazz) including a palpable dose of Talking Heads, rendering brassy blasts of high-octane, deep-groove dance music.
On a bone-chilling Wednesday night, before a crowd of about 60 enthusiastic fans at Knuckleheads, Turkuaz performed for the first time in Kansas City, arousing gusts of warm enthusiasm and rendering an indelible impression.
The band is led by guitarist and vocalist Dave Brandwein, who performs with plenty of vigor and swagger, but he is generous with the spotlight.
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Three others in the band took lead vocal duties throughout the 85-minute set, including background singers Sammi Garett and Shira Elias. The other: baritone saxophonist Joshua Schwartz, part of a taut three-man horn section that also showed off plenty of smooth, loosely choreographed dance moves.
They opened with “Chatte Lunatique,” a track from “Zerbert,” the second of their four studio albums, released in 2011, and followed that with a dandy cover of Sly Stone’s “M’Lady,” igniting a feverish mood that simmered all night.
The set list went back to the band’s self-titled debut, also released in 2011, and songs like “Monkey Fingers” and “The Mountain,” plus several tracks off “Future 86,” the most recent album, including “Tired of Talkin’” and “Snap Your Fingers.”
It all meshed seamlessly, often without pause or respite, one track and its relentless groove forged into the next. The band’s energy is as impressive as its vocal and instrumental precision — and free-wheeling precision it is. Even during the heavy, horn-fed jam at the end of “20 Dollar Chill,” the groove stayed on point. And the harmonies were spot-on all night.
The band closed with a solid cover of “Space Captain,” a Joe Cocker tune. Schwartz took lead vocals on that one, paying homage to the late singer.
The closer was another track from the “Zerbert” album: “Lookin’ Tough, Feelin’ Good,” a song that lived up to half its title. Instead of tough, Turkuaz always looks a lot like the crowd before it: joyous and entertained.