Editors note: Buzz staff writer Sam Bailey-Loomis had the opportunity to play with legendary jazz/funk group Tower of Power. This is her story of her experiences.
By Sam Bailey-Loomis
This past Saturday morning, the legendary horn section from the seventies funk band Tower of Power and drummer, David Garibaldi, came to Branford High School for a drum and horn clinic.
I was lucky enough to play with them.
David, entering the stage first, enticed and informed drummers in the crowd, talking about his history as a drummer, and the technique he has gained over the years. “I’m very appreciative of my gift and happy to know I’ve inspired so many people. It’s just hard for me to process. I mean, let’s face it—the story is still being written” David said as he spoke with pride.
Soon after, the legendary horn section, which included Emilio Castillo, Stephen “Doc” Kupka, Tom E. Politzer, Adolfo Acosta, and Sal Cracchiolo, took over the stage and played excerpts of some of their songs. The audience, overwhelmed by their full, powerful sound, were surprised when Tower of Power welcomed some of our own band members to play on stage with them. These students included: Michael Caminear (sophomore) on alto saxophone, Hua Wen Booth (Sophomore) on tenor saxophone, Andrew Malonis (junior) on drums, Pat Laske (Junior) on guitar, Vinny Grillo (junior) on guitar, and myself on baritone saxophone.
This experience, both overwhelming and exhilarating, was an opportunity that people all over wish they could have had. Speaking on behalf of all of us, I can say that we were all so grateful to have been able to play with one of the most authentic funk bands of all time. After the clinic, our school band had one-on-one, backstage time with the group.
Talking to “Doc” Kupka, a fellow baritone saxophone player, he explained “Love is patient and kind. That’s my philosophy. Making things better for you if you’ve been to our show – that gives me a joyous feeling. It’s a beautiful thing and I know it was meant to be. Having a vibrant career that meets my creative and artistic needs also brings me joy.”
The guys enjoyed a lunch with us, and headed out a little while later to head back up to Mohegan Sun to play a show that night. The next day, our band director, Ted Samodel, received an e-mail from Emilio saying that they were “so blessed to have the opportunity to play” to us and with the kids. They also said that they would like to come again next year. The Tower of Power brought us all a new, heightened sense of music, and left us with some lessons and facts that will help us all, as musicians, to thrive and improve.