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Chaquico, Turning Point team up for night of eclectic jazz

Citizen Staff Writer



Smooth jazz guitarist Craig Chaquico (once a member of the high-flying Jefferson Starship rock band) steps onstage in Tucson this weekend, joined by the Phoenix-based Turning Point, a genre-blending quintet that fuses elements of rock, funk, blues, Greek and Latin.

For Chaquico, this is just the latest twist in a career that’s been a long and winding road. The musician’s living room walls are lined with 20 neatly framed gold records, mileposts of a career that began when he was 16 and an unofficial member of Jefferson Airplane.

Then Grace Slick and Paul Kantner invited young Chaquico to be a permanent member of the re-tooled Jefferson Starship, which morphed into the more galactic Starship before its rockin’ rocket ride crashed back to Earth.

Reinventing himself in 1993, Chaquico recorded his first take on smooth jazz with “Acoustic Highway.” That was followed by the Grammy-nominated “Acoustic Planet” in 1994.

As the smooth jazz sound was developing into its own genre, those two albums attracted the attention of such pioneers in the movement as Richard Elliot, Warren Hill and Peter White.

Meanwhile, up Interstate-10, the Sahnas brothers were developing their unique multiple-fusion sound that would become Turning Point.

“We’re players with diverse musical influences that stuff as many different genres as we can into a contemporary jazz box,” said Thano Sahnas. With sibling Demitri, the two began began playing traditional Greek instruments. Moving to Spanish guitars, they developed their native Greek music into a broader Mediterranean sound. Soon their repertoire stretched from Mykonos to Madrid.

After that, their southern Arizona influences took over. Latin rhythms were filled out, jazz improvisations were added. Turning Point became the Sahnas brothers plus three, a band quickly noted for its versatile sound.

The other members are John Herrera, drums and percussion; Steven Culp, keyboards; and Dominic Amato, saxophone.

“We are going to play all the songs that people hope we’ll play, Turning Point favorites through the years,” Sahnas said. “A large part of the program is completely improvisational, as you’ll see when we collaborate with Craig.”


What: Guitarist Craig Chaquico joins Turning Point in concert

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Where: The Arizona Ballroom of the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort, 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd.

Price: $30 in advance, $35 day of the show, $75 VIP seating; children 12 and younger are admitted free

Info: 429-9803, www.azentertainmentandevents.com

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