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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 1, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 40
Tower of Power justifies its name
Arts & Entertainment
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Tower of Power justifies its name

by Mercy Moosemuzzle - SGN Contributing Writer

Tower of Power
Cuteness couldn't go to Tower of Power (TOP) at Jazz Alley because it was a late show on a weeknight. So Mercy's friend Divinity snatched up the second comp. Divinity had last seen TOP opening for Z. Z. Top a long time ago. She said there were no vocals in those days, just a wonderful instrumental group. Mercy thinks the addition of Larry Braggs' virtuoso vocals is a happy addition. He is matched in mastery by the rest of the group: Emilio Castillo (tenor sax), Stephen 'Doc' Kupka (baritone sax), Rocco Prestia (bass), Adolfo Acosta (trumpet), Mic Gillette (trumpet and trombone), Tom Pollitzer (sax), David Garibaldi (drums), Roger Smith (keyboards), and Mike Harper (guitar). Divinity, herself Italian-American, pointed out there were a lot of Italian names in the band. The group has played together for 43 years, and it's as if they can read each other's minds.

The concert started out with the upbeat 'We Came to Play,' which segued into 'Soul with a Capital S.' The audience couldn't resist dancing. 'Could You Say' continued in the same vein. Braggs joked, 'We are going to play as many songs as we can in 20 minutes, three of those devoted to songs on the serious side.' 'We Are Going to Get Serious' continued the fast tempo and had a delicious keyboard, tenor, and alto sax solos. The band slowed down with 'Something is Happening to Me.' An elegant trumpet was featured.

'Maybe Baby' returned to up the tempo and had a luscious keyboard moment. 'Living in a Rubble' was also fast and flawless. Tom Pollitzer, who had a nice voice, sang 'You've Got to Funkify.' A tenor sax solo rocked out. Larry delivered a slow and slinky 'Me and Mrs. Jones.' They stayed slow with 'I Could Never Make You Happy,' which caused Braggs to joke, 'Two ballads in a row, that's a record.' 'I Still Be Digging on James Brown' honored one of the group's heroes. 'What is Hip' had Mic Gillette alternating trumpet and trombone in the same song, and rocking keyboards and alto sax. The encore was 'This Time It's Real,' another nice, slow love song.

Jazz Crusaders
Mercy wants you to know the Jazz Crusaders are coming to Jazz Alley from October 7 to 10. The band includes Joe Sample (piano), Everette Harp (reeds), and Wayne Henderson (trombone).

In the summer of 1958, the Jazz Crusaders, including Joe Sample (keyboards), Wilton Felder (saxophone), and Wayne Henderson (trombone) left their hometown of Houston Texas for the dream of a recording contract in Los Angeles. In May of 1961, they recorded their first album for Pacific Jazz Records, Freedom Sound, which went on to sell over 50,000 copies. That was a milestone for any recording in 1961-'62, let alone a jazz recording. It launched the Jazz Crusaders as one of the most distinct jazz groups of the era, spurred a long string of equally successful recordings throughout the decade, and led to their emergence as seminal leaders of contemporary jazz.

At a time when most of the jazz community was caught up in the 'free jazz,' movement of the '60s, they combined the sonic elements of Wilton's saxophone, Wayne's trombone, and the distinctive piano of Joe to combine R&B, gospel, juke joint, and jazz, creating their own style of songwriting and playing. While firmly rooted in jazz, they still knew how to write a melody and make people dance.

You can get your tickets at www.jazzalley.com

Joey Arias and Eliot Douglass in Strange Fruit
Come see Joey Arias at the Triple Door on October 12. A dear friend's 80-year-old mother says it best: 'I never thought I would get to see Billie Holiday again in this life.' He is a legendary underground entertainer turned international cabaret sensation, here for an evening of signature song and banter, joined by his longtime pianist and creative co-conspirator Eliot Douglass. Fresh from a five-year run as 'Mistress of Seduction' for Zumanity: The Sultry Side of Cirque de Soleil, a role created expressly for him, Arias is the 2009 recipient of GLAAD's Off-Off-Broadway award for his Arias With a Twist, an intimate cabinet of curiosities melding Arias' legendary voice with puppeteer Basil Twist's lavish and ecstatic visual creations. Arias and Douglass will be performing original work along with material from Ms. Holiday as only Joey Arias can conjure her.

You can get your tickets at www.thetripledoor.net.

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