Posts Tagged ‘horn band’


King Tut’s trumpets

April 20, 2011

Recently one of the two trumpets that were found in 1922 in King Tut’s tomb was rediscovered, in a bag of other artifacts from the Cairo Museum.

Apparently the two trumpets, one made of bronze, one of silver, were played for a radio broadcast in 1939. True to the spirit of the curse of Tut’s tomb, all kinds of things happened around them. The day of the broadcast the lights at the museum failed an hour before the broadcast. Supposedly every time they have been played, a major international incident has taken place.

The "cursed trumpets" of King Tutankhamun

This article in the BBC News details the performance and includes a sound clip of the sound of the trumpets. They didn’t play very well in tune, and it sounded as if they were very hard to control. Of course, they are really what we would call bugles today, since they lacked valves.

In the Baroque and Classical periods, before the use of valved trumpets in the orchestra, “natural” trumpets very much like these were used throughout Europe. Trumpet players became members of guilds and apprenticed to learn¬† to play using the higher overtones of the instrument, where more diatonic notes are available. Such playing is very demanding on the facial muscles. Since we have absolutely no idea what kind of music was played on them, we don’t know if they had to have great high chops like the clarino trumpet players of the Baroque.

Of course, maybe this was the music of the time:


Yvonne Kupka needs our help!

December 3, 2010

Yvonne Depatis-Kupka, wife of Tower of Power co-leader Stephen Mackenzie “Doc” Kupka, is in need of a liver transplant. A medical fund has been set up to collect and administer donations. Go to the Yvonne Kupka Medical Fund web site to make a donation. A little from a lot of folks means a lot!

There are other ways to help, too. Go to Strokeland Records, Doc’s record company, and buy stuff. You’ll love the music and you’ll be helping Doc and Yvonne as well! My personal favorites: Doc’s Strokeland Superband: “Kick It Up A Step,” and the first recording by a group from the Northwest called DoctorFunk. Check them out!

Click to make a donation to the Yvonne Kupka Medical Fund.


TOP in Hammond, Indiana

April 18, 2009


It’s a pretty good location. It’s supposed to seat 2500. It was part of the renovation of the casino a year or so ago, and it’s very comfortable, and seems to have a good sound system. We were in the second row of tables, close to the front, and from there you tend to here more of the stage monitor mix than the main house feed, so I can’t vouch for the sound farther back.

Sightlines look good, and the mezzanine level might be the real place to sit. It’s not too far away – and there are two large video screens flanking the stage, so you can still see the action. If the mix is good back there, just back of of the board, it should be pretty nice.

The band played well, and a bunch of Larry’s friends and family from Chicago must have come down for the concert. He was pretty much mobbed at that time. I was able to squeeze in and get him to sign my set list. (They were selling autographed copies of the set list for $ 20 each, only 20 copies. Larry and Rocco were the only ones who had not signed them. Now mine just needs Rocco’s signature!)

Anyway, a good concert, the band played “You Met Your Match” from the new album, “Great American Soulbook,” apparently for the first time live. Sounded great to me, although Bogus says Larry invented a few lyrics. I think Stevie Wonder probably did that from time to time as well…anyway, he sounded great.¬† It was a delightful evening all the way around and Bogus says he read that the guy who runs The Venue is a big Tower fan, so maybe they will have a good location to play in the Chicago area every time the come through on tour!


Tower of Power’s New Album!

April 8, 2009

topsoulbookTower did something new, after 40 years of playing and recording mainly original material – a covers album! With guests Tom Jones, Huey Lewis, Sam Moore, and Joss Stone, this one is on their own TOP Records label. Go to Tower of Power’s website to order it.

I’m listening to it now, so I can’t really react to it very much yet, but I will say this…Joss Stone is for real. Damn, that l’il white girl can sing! She’s barely old enough to drink, and she sound like she’s been singing on the road for twenty years…think Aretha in her prime! She’s getting there, this one is…watch out for her. And she fits with Larry and the band better than I ever expected.

Three tracks were produced by George Duke, and the band has a different sound that is still Tower-like. Bruce Conte plays on most of the tracks, since they were recorded when he was still with the band. I’m glad to hear him on the record.

One thing I’m noticing is that because the songs weren’t conceived with the Tower horns in mind, the integration of the two is not always as organic as TOP’s original material. The horns were almost a second voice to the lead vocalist in many of their tunes…some of these tunes have more “background horn” tracks…Dave Eskridge did a great job on the horn arrangements (Adolfo and Mike did some of the writing as well) but it’s just…different.

I see the band operating in three modes over the past 40 years…putting together the characteristic TOP sound in the early years, experimentation – especially with synths – in the 80s, and getting back to the roots in the 90s to today. This is another step for the band, and I applaud them for moving out of the comfort zone that’s worked so well for them for so long!


CD of the month

March 15, 2008

It’s a new Gray Cat feature…every month (or so santa fe image) I’ll try to review a new, or at least new to me, CD. This month it’s “Let The Healing Begin,” by a Las Vegas horn band called Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns.It was recommended by Andy Ebon on Soul Music Online. Andy is the former Tower of Power webmaster and runs a web radio station and portal devoted to funk and R&B horn bands. The band is based at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, where it plays every Monday night. (That’s the night most of the other Vegas shows are dark, so they guys can work their regular shows. Musicianship is top-notch, and the horn section is notable excellent. It sounds a lot less like TOP and a lot more like Chicago should have for the last 30 years. The sound is very reminiscent of the Sons of Champlin, really; partly because guitarist and lead vocalist Jerry Lopez sounds so much like Bill Champlin – who is a friend of the band. (Bill Champlin became a member of Chicago after Terry Kath’s death.)This is a live recording at the Palms, and it has some of the problems some live albums have. The background vocals are mixed oddly to my ears. Perhaps it’s just because there are generally only three background parts, unlike bands like TOP where four or five band members can sing backup.On the upside, the tunes are well-written and the arrangements are great. It’s a different take on the horn band sound, and I can’t get enough of that. Does it sound like TOP? No. It also doesn’t sound like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, or Chicago, or Mingo Fishtrap, or anybody else…it sounds like Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns, and that’s good enough! Recommended. Buy the CD from the band’s web site.