Tower of power
Saturday August 21, 2021 7:30pm
$49 Advance / $149 Premium Seats / $60 Day of Show
The horn-driven Tower of Power has been rocking their renowned sound since 1968, infusing Soul (with a capital S) into the music industry for 52 years – and now, they’re celebrating with their new album STEP UP, a collection of sounds guaranteed to funkifize, energize, and provide the soundtrack for new American movements of Love, Peace, Soul Power, Mind Power, and People Power to rise!
“Tower of Power remains as vital and full of life-affirming funk and soul, if not more, as they were in 1968. The band’s dedication, hard work and connection to us long-time fans prove that a good idea is timeless” — NPR
Since its formation in Oakland, California in 1968, Tower of Power has forged a reputation as a crack band of high achieving musicians fluent in all realms of Soul, Rock, and Pop music, with a sophistication and punch like that of a Jazz big band. From their first album East Bay Grease (1970) on Rock impresario Bill Graham’s San Francisco Records label (distributed by Atlantic), the interracial band became pillars and signatures of The Bay Area Music Scene that included pioneering like-minded bands such as Sly & The Family Stone, Cold Blood, Graham Central Station, The Pointer Sisters, and The Sons of Champlin, plus rock-oriented outfits such as Santana and Journey. Beginning with their sophomore release, Tower of Power came to prominence with a string of acclaimed albums on Warner Bros. Records: Bump City (1972), Tower of Power (1973), Back to Oakland (1974), Urban Renewal (1974), In the Slot (1975) and Live and in Living Color (1976). A move to Columbia Records resulted in three more major label releases and their last top-charting hit, “You Ought To Be Havin’ Fun.” Including all studio albums, live albums and rarities anthologies, T.O.P. has 24 previous releases in its burgeoning catalog.
Along with T.O.P.’s classic recordings, the five-piece Tower of Power Horns became much in demand for studio sessions and live gigs. Among the hundreds of artists they have blessed with their presence are Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Graham Central Station, Elton John, Little Feat, Billy Preston, John Lee Hooker, Coke Escovedo, Jose Feliciano, Al Kooper, Sammy Hagar, Rod Stewart, Peter Frampton, Santana, Smokey Robinson, Huey Lewis & The News, Toto, Paul Shaffer, Bonnie Raitt, Luther Vandross, Candy Dulfer, Aerosmith, Phish, John Hiatt, Neil Diamond, P.Diddy, Bill Wyman, Eiko Shuri… and TV’s The Simpsons (Sing The Blues).
Most importantly, when almost all other R&B bands abandoned their horn sections as the sound of Soul music morphed into more stripped-down techno and synthesizer strains in the ’80s, Tower of Power near single-handedly carried the torch for full-on 10-piece bands, often even including a conguero/percussionist. Faithful fans flocked to their concerts and purchased their new albums that kept the real soul vibe alive for decades. Indeed, the horn section is so pivotal to Tower of Power that unlike most band stage setups that have horns in the back, T.O.P.’s renowned and respected horn section is right up-front with the lead singer.
Now, with clever lyrics, funky arrangements, and tremendous musicality, Tower of Power step up their game with STEP UP, released March 20th, 2020. As the first single from the record, and the album’s title track, “Step Up” is an instant groove full of Tower of Power’s signature funky and rhythmical sound. The track’s empowering lyrics and motivational message cannot be ignored, and string together the song’s overall vibe for a feel-good track. “Step Up” provides a taste of the band’s promise of an album that will “move you physically and emotionally,” as predicted by bandleader and founder Emilio Castillo himself.
As always, the songs were primarily composed by the hitmaking team of founding members Emilio Castillo (Detroit-born on 2nd tenor sax) and Stephen “Doc” Kupka (Los Angeles-born on baritone sax) who also hold down the world famous 5-man Tower of Power Horns. For the special occasion of Tower of Power’s 50th anniversary, leader Emilio Castillo brought in a most-astute choice in co-producer, Joe Vannelli: an all-around production/engineering/keyboard master best known for the jazz-tinged Soul-Rock Grammy-winning work he performed behind the scenes with his international superstar brother, Gino Vannelli. Also ensuring that the sound blasts powerful and clear from your speakers is the presence of mastering engineer Bernie Grundman in the mix. Along with the legendary rhythm section drums and bass lock of David Garibaldi and Francis Rocco Prestia, respectively, these decorated veterans have custom-crafted a hair-raising audio experience that longtime fans, music connoisseurs and a new generation of listeners will groove to for years to come.
Along with veteran members Castillo, Kupka, Garibaldi, and Prestia, T.O.P. consists of guitarist Jerry Cortez, Hammond B3 organist/keyboardist Roger Smith, 1st tenor saxophonist Tom Politzer, and trumpeters Adolfo Acosta and Sal Cracchiolo. Step Up is also blessed with not one but two lead singers: outgoing Ray Greene (now in Santana) and incoming Marcus Scott.