Turning Point

Turning Point

BandJazzWorld

High energy instrumental jazz fusing rock, funk, Latin and world music elements.

Biography

When the combustible four-man force of musical nature known as Turning Point took over the Phoenix club scene in the mid-90s, the desert city’s nights truly became as steamy its days. Establishing itself before packed houses at hotspots like The Famous Door and Beeloes, and later becoming regional sensations playing some 200 dates a year, the band grew to embody the freewheeling creative spirit of indie music. Drawing on each member’s musical and cultural background, Turning Point forged an eclectic sound that mixed progressive jazz with rock, R&B and blues, with touches of Greek music and—paying homage to their home in the Southwest—Latin jazz. The title of Matador, Turning Point’s Native Language debut and sixth album overall, perfectly captures the band’s bold evolution into a true rock instrumental powerhouse.

The four members of Turning Point--Thano Sahnas, his brother Demitri Sahnas (acoustic and fretless bass), keyboardist Steve Culp and drummer/percussionist John Herrera--faced a lot of flak in their early years for creating a genre practically unto themselves defying music industry convention. This initial resistance inspired them to push the envelope even further, and the payoff with audiences has been phenomenal. Their music appeals to fans of many of the top rock, R&B and smooth jazz artists they have opened for, from Michael McDonald to Little Feat, chill performer Praful, acid jazzers Down To the Bone and The Rippingtons.

Turning Point has received acclaim for all of its previous releases, beginning with a self titled debut in 1995 and including A Cool Jazzy Christmas (1996), Together (1998), Bridges (1999) and A Thousand Stories (2000), which was produced by famed bassist Brian Bromberg and released nationally by A440 Music. Together earned the band its largest national audience, receiving airplay on more than 40 smooth jazz stations. Yet the eleven tracks on Turning Point's latest album Matador capture the band on the cusp of reaching its creative potential, and the addition of saxophonist Dominic Amato as a featured player on the record has allowed Turning Point to stretch their musicality even further.

The album’s first single is “Quisiera Ser,” a crisp and funk-driven cover of a Latin Grammy winning song by South American superstar Alejandro Sanz, highlighted by Thano Sahnas’ snappy flamenco flair. The Latin influence is also in effect on “Spain” and “Matador,” both turbo charged flamenco rock adventures featuring a fiery horn section and wild, rolling grooves; in addition to featuring a soaring violin solo by guest star Charlie Bisharat, “Spain” also has a nouveau be-bop vibe courtesy of Culp’s energetic Rhodes-flavored keyboard solo. Moving in a more tropical direction, “Despues De Manana” is a joyful island dance number that beautifully combines Thano Sahnas’ lush acoustic strumming and Culp’s playful solos. The Sahnas brothers bring their Greek heritage to “Rhapsody For Priapus,” an ode to the Greek god of virility that cools into a moody romantic mode.

Two of Matador’s most heartfelt tracks were inspired by powerful events: the electric guitar driven pop/rock anthem “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” by the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia; and the seven and a half minute “Soldier’s Lullaby” by the war in Iraq. “The intent was to create a musical feeling of what a soldier might be feeling in his soul, heading out to battle while wishing he was home, able to sing his baby to sleep,” says Thano Sahnas. “Imagining entry onto the battlefield itself, the tune becomes more aggressive, with time signature changes throughout to create a subliminal tension. It’s compositionally unique.”

“Compositionally Unique” is an apt description for Matador’s other tracks, from the trippy electro-fusion funk opener “Lickety Split” (featuring DJ Mister Best on cuts and scratches) to the easy thumping bluesy moods of “Gospel Brunch,” the expansive, soulful romantic ballad “Turn Down The Night” and the lively, retro-soul and blues tinged “Suburban Safari.”

Each member of Turning Point brings unique personal musical influences to the band’s sound. The Sahnas brothers grew up playing in Phoenix rock bands at the same time they played traditional Greek folk music; they recently released a side project Mykonos to Madrid on Moondo Records, in association with Native Language. Herrera played in variety bands in his native New Mexico, covering the gamut from country and rock to R&B and Mexican music. Yuma, Arizona native Culp had a similar border town musical background, and went on to receive a Master’s Degree from the University of Miami Music School. Growing up in Detroit, Amato couldn’t help but develop an affinity for all things R&B.

Each member brought a resume chock-full of studio gigs and performing with other groups, and when they got together, a rockin’ contemporary jazz style emerged naturally. “We met in studio circles in Phoenix, and we just thought it would be fun to collaborate on some so

Discography

Matador (2005 - Native Language Music)
A Thousand Stories (2002 - A440 Music Group)
Live (DVD) (2002 - self-released)
Portraits (2001 - self-released)
Bridges (1999 - self-released)
Together (1998 - self-released)
A Cool Jazzy Christmas (1994 - self-released)
Turning Point (1994 - self-released)

Set List

Sets range from 30 to 120 minutes
Sets contain music from band's seven full-length releases