On Friday night, Michelangelo Carubba of the Brooklyn-based funk powerhouse Turkuaz hosted his annual birthday bash at Brooklyn Bowl. For the third annual iteration of the event, Carubba had something particularly special in store, tapping a number of other big names in the music scene to help him welcome in another lap around the sun. For his birthday blowout, the drummer tapped TAB trumpeter and vocalist Jennifer Hartswick, Allen Stone keyboardist Steveland Swatkins, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds bassist Josh Myers, and singer-songwriters Ryan Montbleau and Cris Jacobs, in addition to a number of folks from the Snarky Puppy clan, including Robert “Sput” Searight, Nate Werth, and the Snarky Puppy Horns—composed of Justin Stanton, Mike Maher, and Chris Bullock. However, the list didn’t stop there, with his fellow Turkuaz bandmates, Craig Brodhead, Shira Elias, and Sammi Garett, all joining in on last night’s festivities.
Ahead of his birthday party, Michelangelo Carubba spoke to Live For Live Music about the important personal meaning of the event: “Ultimately, it really is just about me wanting to play with my friends. I love seeing all my friends when they come to these birthday shows. The whole thing is just a reflection of my life in front of me—in people and in music. I want everyone else to see what that means and also, in a way, to give back to the people who have made it possible. Every person involved has played a part in me being there on stage that day, on my birthday.”
With the event holding such a special personal importance to Carubba, each year, the Turkuaz drummer strives to make things better than the last. Unlike past years and with such an extensive listing of some of the most masterful musicians in the scene at his fingertips, the Turkuaz drummer decided to move away from a more traditional super jam in favor of a more pre-determined set list with specific planned collaborations. Ahead of his birthday party, Carubba noted: “This year, I am trying to do something completely different than the super jam idea. . . . I thought it might be sensory overload if all fourteen were onstage at the same time, the entire time. I’m kind of breaking people off and putting together combinations of music that you will never see anywhere else. When else are you going to see Cris Jacobs playing cigar box guitar with Jen Hartswick singing, you know?”
To say that this format for the show was a success would be an understatement. Last night was a funk-fueled celebration of life, which saw a slew of well-executed covers spanning well-loved catalogs from Stevie Wonder to Dolly Parton to The Wood Brothers to Janet Jackson. In addition to the already-massive birthday lineup Carubba had planned for the evening, the performance also saw sit-ins from trombonist Natalie Cressman (Trey Anastasio Band), guitarist Bob Lanzetti (Snarky Puppy), and bassist Dave Livolsi (Jazz Is Dead).
You can check out photos from Michelangelo Carubba’s third annual birthday blowout below, courtesy of Chris Capaci of Capacity Images. You can also listen to the full audio from the night below, courtesy of Eric McRoberts. Enjoy