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Tower of Power

HSL Properties Tucson Jazz Festival Presents

Tower of Power

ArcoIris Sandoval, Lonnie Plaxico

Jan 21 Sat

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

The Rialto Theatre

$36.00 - $46.00

This event is all ages

Reserve Seated: Specific assigned seats for each ticket sold.

Tower of Power
Tower of Power
For well close to five decades, Tower of Power has delivered the best in Rhythm and Blues music. But, as group co-founder Emilio Castillo says, they could have had a much different name.

“We were a Soul band called The Motowns.” he recalls. Rocco Prestia was the bass player, I was in there, and my brother was the drummer. I met Doc Kupka at the Alameda County Fair over the Fourth of July weekend back in 1968, and gave him an audition. He came in the band, and we eventually changed our name to the Tower of Power.” The reason for the band name change was that they had a specific goal in mind.

“We wanted to get into the Fillmore Auditorium and with a name like the Motowns, dressed in suits with razor cuts, we knew we’d never get in there. We grew our hair long, and started to be hippies, and changed our name. Doc then suggested to me that we should start writing our own songs. Our first song was ‘You’re Still A Young Man.”

The gig at the Fillmore was a major goal for the band, which incidentally came along at just the right time. “At the time, we had been playing nightclubs, and we had gotten busted for being underage. We had been playing underage in nightclubs for years. That’s all we knew. One night, the ABC came in, and caught the trumpet player drinking a screwdriver, and the next thing we knew, they put a notice out to all the clubs in the Bay Area that if they hired us again, they would lose their liquor license. We found ourselves with no work and no money. My parents had moved to Detroit and I was on my own for the first time. I was broke and hungry, and all I did was rehearse. We wrote the songs for the East Bay Grease record, and we practiced them every day. By the time November came around, we were at the end of our rope. I told the guys that I was going to Detroit for the holidays to see my parents, and if nothing happened with this audition, I wasn’t coming back.”

Fortunately, he did have to make a return trip to the Bay Area. “A couple of days later, Doc called me, and said ‘You’ve gotta come back. He dug it.” I said ‘Who dug it?” He said ‘Bill Graham.’ As it turned out, Bill and David Rubinson – the producer for his new label, San Francisco Records - liked the band because we were soulful. Everyone had grown out of the whole psychedelic thing. Bands like Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead had been happening for about three years. The collective ear of the Bay Area was ready for something soulful. That’s right when we came along.”

Their first record, East Bay Grease, helped to define the East Bay sound, and did well enough to warrant a recording contract with Warner Brothers. Bump City, their 1972 debut for the label, was a hit on both the Billboard 200 and the chart’s R&B Albums chart, and netted them the hits “You’re Still A Young Man” and “Down To The Nightclub.” The decade of the 1970s were a boom period for the group, who hit with radio classics like “So Very Hard To Go” and “What Is Hip?” and the band has continued to tour and record over the years with their latest project Hipper Than Hip being a live flash back to their 1974 tour. Castillo says their love of the stage is the same today as it was back in 1968.

“I still love it as much as ever. We’re not a smooth jazz band, or a retro band...we don’t follow trends, we just make our music exactly the way we want it to be. We noticed years ago that when we did that, the fans liked it. We stay true to that, and that makes it easy to go to work on a daily basis. Every time we go to play, we’re playing music we love because we got to make it our way” The thrill of stepping on stage has never gone away, because as Castillo says, he loves the attention. “Let’s face it. Musicians are some of the most self-centered people in the world. So, that never gets old. People ask what it feels like to hear your song on the radio. It never gets old. What’s it like to see yourself on TV? Again, it never gets old.”
ArcoIris Sandoval
ArcoIris Sandoval
ArcoIris Sandoval is a jazz pianist, composer and Fulbright award recipient currently residing in New York City. She obtained her Master's degree in jazz piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music, and has won several ASCAP young composer awards as well as being a semifinalist at in the Montreux Solo Jazz Piano competition, a participant in the Mary Lou Williams Festival, Betty Carter Jazz Ahead, and the Metropole Orkest Arrangers Workshop featuring Richard Bona. One of her arrangements was recently performed by the Metropole at the 2016 BBC Proms tribute to Quincy Jones. She has also performed at major festivals throughout the world including a tour in China, the Telluride Jazz Festival, the Tucson Jazz Festival, the Vancouver Summer Festival, and many others throughout Europe, India, South America and Mexico. She is currently the co-founder and co-director of The DOME Experience and is actively performing with several ensembles including with Human Kindition, Lonnie Plaxico, the Mimi Jones Band, The Erica Seguine/Shannon Baker Big Band, the Greg Ruvolo Big Band, the Camille Thurman 4tet, as well as her own ensemble, Sonic Asylum.
Lonnie Plaxico
Lonnie Plaxico
Lonnie Plaxico, bassist, composer and producer, was the middle child in a family of Chicago musicians. By age 12, he had taught himself to play the electric bass and was soon venturing into Chicago's jazz, funk and blues scene, turning professional at age 14. In 1980 Lonnie moved to New York and soon began to appear with such artists as Chet Baker, Dexter Gordon and Wynton Marsalis. His first extended tenure was with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, performing on 12 of Blakey's albums in four years. In 1986 he joined Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition, continuing with that group until 1993. Presently, Plaxico is the musical director and featured bassist for Cassandra Wilson. Plaxico's recording and performance catalog is equally impressive. He has appeared with such luminaries as Sonny Stitt, Junior Cook, David Murray, Alice Coltrane, Stanley Turrentine, Joe Sample, Abbey Lincoln and Dizzy Gillespie. He has also recorded five critically acclaimed albums as leader.