By Scott Hayes
NEW HAVEN -- Tower of Power is returning to Toad's Place, the York Street club at which the band had performed for 30 straight years, setting a record at the venue before choosing other Connecticut locations, namely the casinos in the eastern part of the state.
After an absence of several years, the 10-piece band that features a funky five-piece horn section returns Thursday, June 12 with a new lead singer, Ray Greene, and the newest member of the band, lead trumpet player Sal Cracchiolo. Tower is Power is squeezing the visit to Toads in between its current tour dates, which it shares with the Steve Miller Band. The tandem plays June 13 at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Mass. and Saturday at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga, N.Y.
The band's lineup includes four founding members from the original 1968 Tower of Power cast -- saxophonist and band leader Emilio Castillo, baritone sax player Stephen "Doc" Kupka, bassist Rocco Prestia and drummer David Garibaldi. Roger Smith is the current keyboardist for the group, and Adolfo Acosta plays second trumpet. Acosta formerly played with Maynard Ferguson's big band. Jerry Cortez now plays lead guitar and Tom Politzer is lead saxophonist.
Greene, who was a trombonist at Boston's Berklee School of Music, replaced lead vocalist Larry Braggs at the end of 2013. Braggs had been the voice of Tower of Power for 13 years, the longest tenured singer for the Oakland-area band.
Tower of Power embarked on its 2014 tour in May, and will return to Connecticut on September 26 (not a part of the TOP/Steve Miller Band tour) to play at the Durham Fair.