Richard Elliot – a Tower of Power unto himself

When you have “horn play for Tower of Power” on your resume, it gives you lots of street creed in the world of Funk and Smooth Jazz. And when you see Richard Elliot play, he lives up to expectations created from such a resume! He was born in Scotland, but grew up in the Smooth Jazz Mecca of Los Angeles and quickly became a fan of West Coast classic R&B. This week he owns the top spot of Billboard’s Jazz charts. And, to the delight of those who follow CoolGrooves.net, there are plenty of videos that capture great performances by this gifted player.

We’ll start the videos off with “Move On Up.”

Although he’s called a “smooth jazz artist,” saxophonist Richard Elliot is equally at home with most rock & roll and classic R&B. For five years in the 1980s, he was a big part of the classic R&B band’s horn-based sound. Elliot landed his first job while still a teenager with Natalie Cole and the Pointer Sisters. A few years later, he was tapped to record with some of his idols from Motown Records, which had relocated from Detroit to Los Angeles. In the 1970s, he had the chance to record with Smokey Robinson, the Four Tops, and the Temptations.

Elliot performs “Boom Town,” his latest chart busting hit.

Elliot was later tapped to record with the Yellowjackets on their second album. After touring with Melissa Manchester for a time, he was asked to become a full-fledged member of the Tower of Power horns in 1982. He stayed with the group until 1987 and looks back fondly on those years for they shaped the style he has today.

Richard Elliot performing “Rock Steady” off his new release.

He released his debut album Trolltown in 1986 and has since scored four #1 albums (On The Town, Soul Embrace, After Dark and Jumpin’ Off) and a growing number of #1 airplay singles. In addition to his participation in all-star tours like Groovin’ For Grover and Jazz Attack, in the mid-‘90s he helped launch another of the genre’s annual franchises, the “Guitars & Saxes” tours, which he has participated in on and off ever since. Elliot is known for his zebra-striped tenor saxophone. In 2005, Elliot joined trumpeter Rick Braun as they co-founded their own label, ARTizen Music Group (now known as Artistry Music).

Enjoy a performance of “Down and Dirty” with Rick Braun.

Here is another great performance…

Hope you enjoyed this piece on Richard Elliot. Please feel free to give us feedback, we always appreciate it!

About Daniel Odescalchi

I've been a smooth jazz fan since I was first turned onto David Sanborn, Marcus Miller & Bob James in the 80's. And who could forget Dave Grusin. Unfortunately after a while too many people started doing pop covers and it polluted the smooth jazz pool. That's starting to change and this blog is dedicated to educating people on the enjoyment of smooth jazz and the artists that perform it.
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