With a career spanning over 40 years and over 20 albums, the Bay-area soul-funk band Tower of Power is a true musical institution. In fact, founding member Emilio Castillo (tenor sax, vocals) compares the group to an institution of another type – an institution of higher learning.
“It’s kind of like a college – people come in and they’re really good players and they leave even greater, and along the way we help each other out,” Castillo said in a telephone interview.
Tower of Power will be performing at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, 777 Harrah’s Blvd., on Saturday, November 19 with special guests the Average White Band. Tickets for the 9:00 p.m. show are $35 and $45 and are available HERE. For information, call Harrah’s at 609-441-5000.
Notable alumni include saxophonist Richard Elliot, trumpet/flugelhorn player Greg Adams, and Saturday Night Live musical director Lenny Pickett.
“Afterwards, it’s always a source of pride to say [they] played with us.” It’s also a source of pride to Castillo to name some of the artists that the Tower of Power horns, have toured and recorded with. The list includes Santana, Elton John, John Lee Hooker, Aerosmith,P. Diddy, and many others.
The current 10-man group includes original members Castillo, and baritone saxophonist Stephen “Doc” Kupka. Also in the band are Adolfo Acosta (trumpet), Larry Braggs (lead vocals), Jerry Cortez (guitar), David Garibaldi (drums), Sal Cracchiollo (trumpet and trombone), Tom Politzer (lead tenor sax), Rocco Prestia (bass) and Roger Smith (keyboards).
Tower of Power’s newest release, an album/DVD package entitled 40th Anniversary, was recorded live at San Francisco’s famous Fillmore Auditorium in California. A favorite among fans, the collection features performances and interviews with many of the group’s former members, including Richard Elliott, Lenny Pickett, Greg Adams, and Chester Thompson.
The group’s 2009 album, The Great American Soulbook which features covers of soul classics with guest singers Joss Stone, Tom Jones, Huey Lewis, and Sam Moore, spent 19 weeks in the Top 40 of Billboard’s jazz charts.
Because of exposure on the Internet and through first-generation fans, Castillo says the band’s audience is getting younger. After four decades, Castillo still loves the job. “We stay at nice hotels, eat great food, play really nice places, and we travel all over the world…. I’m totally blessed.”
Tower of Power tour dates through the end of the year include:
November 21 at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA
November 22 at Ram’s Head in Annapoils, MD
December 2 at Sycuan Casino in El Cajon, CA
December 3 at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, CA
December 6, 7 and 8 at Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapoils, MN
December 29 at The State Theater in Modesto, CA
December 30 at San Jose Civic Auditorium in San Jose, CA