MODESTO — Tower of Power will be performing at The State Theatre of Modesto, 1307 J Street, on Thursday, Dec. 29, at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $40., $45., and $50. The venue phone is 209-527-4697, and the web site is http://www.thestate.org.
With 43 years of recording and touring experience behind them, Tower of Power have a 40th anniversary cd/dvd box set and a new album, The Great American Soulbook which features covers of soul classics with guest singers Joss Stone, Sir Tom Jones, Huey Lewis, and Sam Moore.
The group still garners rave reviews, and leaves the audiences dancing in their seats in the arenas, theatres, and outdoor venues they play year ‘round. Melding soul, jazz, funk, and rock in a way no group ever has, the ten-piece outfit is, according to the Hollywood Reporter, “tighter than a clenched fist.”
The late great James Brown was quoted in Heeb magazine about Tower of Power, as saying, “There’s no black group that plays my stuff as good as them.”
Well known in the ‘70s for tunes such as “What is Hip?” and “You’re Still a Young Man,” Tower of Power toured with Santana, Sly Stone and Credence Clearwater Revival, eventually creating traffic jams when they headlined their own shows. They performed on records with Elton John, Smokey Robinson, Rod Stewart, Aerosmith, and Dionne Warwick, influencing a generation of musicians (including Sting, who has told Emilio Castillo, founder of the group, that he once had a “Tower of Power clone band” before he formed The Police). In the 1980s, they backed Huey Lewis and the News, Heart, Eurythmics, and Little Feat, just to name a few.
Tower of Power, after 40 years, is experiencing more popularity than ever before as they tour year ‘round packing venues in the United States, the Pacific Rim, and all over Europe.
On June 6, 2004 The California Music Association honored Tower of Power with a Lifetime Achievement Award and cited their 2003 Sony Legacy anthology “Havin’ Fun” as Soul/R&B album of the year, beating out releases by En Vogue and Raphael Saadiq.
Tower of Power’s newest member is Sal Cracchiolo. Sal has played trumpet with the Grammy-winning Poncho Sanchez for most of his career, and regularly works with Melanie Jackson on jazz standards. Sal has played and recorded with an array of acts including Dizzy Gillespie, Dianne Reeves, Celia Cruz, Tom Jones, Brian Setzer, Harry Connick JR., and Chick Corea. Says Emilio Castillo, “Sal is a world class lead trumpet player. He has an incredibly high range, plays with power and finesse, his soloing technique is unparalleled, and he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known. He’s a great addition to the T.O.P. family.”
The band’s frontman Larry Braggs is also a powerful force. Bandleader Emilio Castillo, who shares frontman duties, is in awe of his singer, “with his astounding range and irresistible energy, he has a soulfulness that knows no bounds, finessing a ballad with the best of them, and then turning right around to make it as funky as it gets. Larry’s joyful spirit is undeniably contagious.”
When asked to describe the band’s music, the group members give a variety of responses. Says Emilio, “What Tower plays is Oakland soul music.” Former Tower saxophonist Lenny Pickett, current musical director for the Saturday Night Live band, says “TOP is the world’s best rhythm and blues band.” In reality, TOP’s horn-driven, in-your-face sound is all its own.
Band members are Adolfo Acosta, trumpet; Larry Braggs, lead vocalist; Emilio Castillo, bandleader, 2nd tenor sax, vocals; Jerry Cortez, guitar; David Garibaldi, drums; Sal Cracchiolo, trumpet & trombone; Stephen “Doc” Kupka, baritone sax; Tom Politzer, lead tenor sax; Rocco Prestia, bass; and Roger Smith, keyboards.
Read more about Tower of Power at www.towerofpower.com.