Tower Of Power – Oakland Zone (ENG review)

Mack Avenue – CD - Release Date: May 19, 2017
Tower Of Power - Oakland Zone (ENG review)

One of the legendary band’s finest live albums, which has been successfully gracing stages since 1968 in Europe, albeit less known than Earth, Wind & Fire, but equally impressive in their live performances. This band will likely outlast the excellent team of musicians who created it. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the remarkable recording of this concert in Oakland, which, like all albums produced by our friends at Mack Avenue, benefits from an extraordinary mix. You really have to listen closely to realize that it’s a live album. The jazz influences in this group are particularly evident, primarily in the arrangements, and that’s probably what sets this band apart.
This concert, recorded in 2008 in Oakland, is considered by long-time Tower Of Power followers as one of their best performances. If you’re interested in this band, you should read the 1977 New York Times article by Robert Palmer, titled “Rock: Tower Of Power’s Funk.
It’s a digitized version from before 1996 when The New York Times went online, and for just a dollar, you can access it.
Emilio Castillo, the saxophonist, Stephen “Doc” Kupka, a founding member of TOP and baritone saxophonist, drummer David Garibaldi, Tom E. Politzer, tenor saxophonist, Adolfo Costa, trumpeter, Jerry Cortez, guitarist and singer, Marc Van Wageningen, guitarist, Mick Jerel, singer, Dave Richards, trumpeter, Francisco Rocco Prestia (one of the founding members who has passed away) – all these musicians, some of whom were on this fantastic album, contributed to establishing Tower Of Power’s reputation, whether through purely instrumental parts or vocal performances. This band has no equivalent – the energy they pour into each song, their tight precision, and ferocious instrumental and vocal accuracy. Since 1968, Tower Of Power has become one of the most impressive groups that have developed a distinctive identity that sets them apart. Their music is instantly recognizable, and their cultural diversity is a key factor that makes an album like this so captivating. While funk is at its core, jazz is never far away, and soul and blues also flow through their veins. As I mentioned, Tower Of Power has a unique DNA.
This is the kind of band that easily fits into jazz festivals, performs countless concerts each year, and is acclaimed wherever they go. If funk music has stood the test of time and continues to evolve with personalities like Cameo or George Clinton, it’s because, much like contemporary jazz, funk music is rooted in composition and arrangements. It’s a human adventure that leaves behind the machines and demands a high level of technical skill. This Oakland concert is as important a document as the concerts by Erroll Garner or Oscar Peterson that Mack Avenue offers.
A document deemed “Essential” by the editors of Bayou Blue Radio and Paris-Move.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, October 23rd 2023


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