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Published: 2002/02/24
by Ian Koudstaal

Topaz, Trilogy Wine Bar, Boulder, CO- 2/15

Coming in from the cold on a brisk Friday night in Boulder, I entered the Trilogy Wine Bar, Restaurant and Venue to a warm reception. Skirting through the elegant dining room and down a hallway, I came to the entrance of the Venue and Wine Bar in the rear of the building. The room, with the capacity for a hundred-or-so heads, had an elegant ambience instilled by dim lighting and relaxing inter-set music.

The sextet took the stage and, without haste, immediately dug right into an intense groove. The band was composed of a stramlined drum kit, bass, guitar, keys and a two-piece reed section comprised of a trumpet and Topaz himself on Saxophone. They consistently kept the crowd afoot and boogying to their unique brand of jazzy funk with a twist of something indescribable.

Their composition is not overly complex, allowing more space for free form, and it has nicely dispersed, elated vocal harmonies. They have a keen sense for intermingling negative space, be it in the midst of a raging, all-out funk onslaught, or bouncing around in the thermals of their more airy jams. Their musical voice comes across with a dialect of the quintessential all-night-long, New York City, Jazzy Funk band. They do a great job of sharing the stage so that the music is never entirely in your face, a tone many overpopulated funk bands achieve. Musical over-saturation results in energetic output yet lacks in diversity and opportunity. Topaz’s free-form improvisation created numerous intense grooves right alongside nice spacious funk jams. They also tangoed with a variety of tight breakdowns ranging from abrupt drum and bass runs to subtle drops in the groove. As with most good funk bands, the reed section played a dominant role in setting the themes yet they consistently and graciously left the stage to allow the remaining quartet to jam around established grooves and lay down new ones to entice the lung powered section back on stage.

To call them a “good-time band,” would be an insult to their talents as they take the aforementioned label to a new level. Their music is melodically euphoric and played with a level of passion I wasn’t prepared for. They produce a sound that is smooth and seductive, pure and liberated, and generally jovial. They maintained the crowd's full and undivided attention keeping them jaw dropped and dancing throughout the night. As if dance therapy wasn’t enough, Topaz had everyone raise their arms into the air shaking the stress through flailing fingertips. As music is undoubtedly my drug of choice, I left that night feeling high on life, sedated by soul, and drunk on funk.

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