J J Martin
JJ Martin, lead vocals, front man. Over 25 years of performance experience and has been fortunate to share the stage with some great artists in the music industry.
These include, TOP alumni Tom Bowes, Andy Williams, Kenny Loggins and Kenny Rogers. He also was able to fit his life long dream of performing at Carnegie Hall NYC last year.
Current other projects-Rubber City Band, Pocket Full of Soul two of Connecticut's most popular horn bands.
JJ credits his current bandmates and friends for all the amazing opportunities that have come his way over the last six years and recognizes that every musical endeavor is a direct result of the chance he was first given by Rubber City band, a horn riven band still thriving after ten years + in his home Town Naugatuck Ct. For that he is eternally grateful.
Gene Zwicharowski Playing in bands late 70's early 80's as a die hard rock drummer, put playing aside to expand construction career and raise a family. 1999 a close fried took me to see my first Tower of Power show. I was mesmerized to say the least. I have never seen 10 musicians play together so tight and complicated and maintain a groove keeping the floor full of dancing fans. I was inspired to jump back into music. Began seeing TOP time and time again. A point came were i decided to form a horn band. Pocket Full of Soul was the name i chose. We played a bunch of TOP along with other horn music. A point came were i decided to form Connecticut's first Tower of Power Tribute band. I am amazed, inspired and motivated by Dave's unique one of a kind drumming style. Thru the years i and grown to become friend with Dave Garibaldi. Had the pleasure of spending some, one on one time in my home with Dave. He was very inspiring about studying music, learning to read it. A big tool in my playing is "The Code of Funk" "Breaking the Code" and "Off the Record" Hudson music publications. Very helpful in development of DG's unique style influencing building of a style of my own. I am living a dream and enjoying playing in this band with such incredible motivated musician-friends. My goal is to learn some serious music theory and take some advanced drum lessons and continue to build my drumming skills.
Guitar & vocals.
Guitarist Frank Barrese, originally from Port Chester NY, now residing in Fairfield CT, got his first guitar at age 12 and hasn’t stopped playing since. He is a self-taught musician. Early influences were the Beatles, Hendrix, Clapton, Santana, B.B. King and Duane Allman. But he also liked the music of James Brown and the Stax/Volt soul artists.
He started “playing for pay” in local rock bands at age 17. Then in 1972, he first heard Tower of Power and became an instant fan. He developed his funk rhythm chops by listening to and learning TOP songs. He got his first opportunity to play in a band with horns in 1972 when he and some friends formed the Yazz Band. It was at that point that he realized that he needed to learn some music theory if he wanted to work with horn players. So he grabbed a book and taught himself harmony theory and how to read and write music. He played in a wedding band for about 10 years in the 1980s and worked in various local bands in the 1990s (Band of Gold, Fat n’ Bad, Chill Factor to name a few).
In 1999 he moved to CT and quickly became established in the local music scene as a much sought-after guitarist. He currently plays in nine different bands and is a first call sub for 3 or 4 others.
He met OTSS founder Gene Zwicharoski about 5-6 years ago and eventually joined Gene’s first horn band, Pocket Full of Soul. When Gene decided to form OTSS as a TOP tribute band, Frank was the logical choice to be the guitarist.
Baritone sax. John began playing saxophone as well as drums in his fourth grade school band .He has worked as professional musician for over forty five years. He also worked as a journeyman electrician for a number of years. He is presently the woodwind instructor at Music and Arts in Fairfield CT and continues his busy schedule as baritone sax player for On The Serious Side, as well as a freelance musician.
Anthony Masi Anthony Masi, Lead Tenor Sax, started playing at 8 years old. Back in the day he had a pretty cool band called the Vistas. He started playing clubs at 14 years old. Anthony studied as a CW Post Undergrad, as well as Manhattanville as a post grad. He went on to study jazz improv with jazz master Sal Mosca. Anthony has played with many well known acts, the latest being The Temptations, the Four Tops, the Four Seasons,The Chiffons, Marshall Tucker band and the list goes on. Anthony has done studio work for numerous acts and commercials. He has been an active voting member for the Grammy Awards since 1988. Also teaching privately for over 30 years including Port Chester High School band and jazz band for over 24 years. Anthony plays in various bands through Connecticut and is also in the studio recording a CD of original material with the band, Off The Grid (OTG).
Norm (Stormin') Robillard plays Hammond B3 organ and piano and sings some lead and background vocals for QTSS. He began his musical career at the age of six learning the accordion in Torrington CT. His first gig was with Apricot Brandy, a soul and R&B group that is still playing today. From a very early age, he was mesmerized by the sound and uniqueness of the B3. Then in 1971, he discovered the soulful and funky sound of a group from Oakland California called "Tower of Power". After hearing "You’re Still a Young Man" and “So Very Hard to Go", his musical journey was solidified. Over the years he played in such popular bands in Connecticut as "Motor City", “Power Play", "Funktional Soul" and "691".
His inspiration comes from Jimmy Smith and Booker T. but his idle has always been Chester Thompson. "If I could match half of CT's chops, I would be thrilled”.
Billy "The Kid" Grodski Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Backing Vocals. Billy began musical training at age 8, studying both private instructors as well as public school systems music education programs. Wile in hight school he developed fluent technical reading and rhythm capabilities. During his senior year he auditioned for and earned a position in the 1973 All Connecticut Hight cool Band.
While continuing his education at Housatonic Community Collage in Bridgeport Ct. Bill studied and played with the lats jazz trombonist Sonny Costanzo. He also studied privately with Lou Pontecorvo renown trumpeter of Wallingford Oakdale Theater's Glory show dates.
Billy has played with such acts as RCA recording artists "Billy Hunt and the family attraction" "Meriden Symphony Orchestra" "John Oblon Big Band" Columbia recording artist "Walt Solek" "Party Line" to name a few. Also performed with "M'Town review" "Higher and Higher" in 2003 played our National Anthem at final Wolf Pack Hockey game Hartford Civic Center.
Influences-The late Mic Gillette, Sal Cracchiolo Tower of Power. Chet Baker, Rick Braun, Blue Mitchell, Clark Terry, Arturo Sandoval and Chris Botti. Biggest musical influences smooth/cool jazz and 70's style funk.
Gear-Yamaha Xeno Trumpet, 70's vintage Getzen 4 valve fugal horn, Legends Brass 5C trumpet mouth piece and a 7 CF Bach Fugal Horn Mouth piece
Patrick grew up in Milford CT, where he began his study of trumpet while attending St. Gabriel grammar school. In high school, in addition to the high school bands, he played professionally at private parties, musicals and church functions, and eventually, with his brother, formed his own group, "The Casey Brothers Rhythm and Blues Band." Lather, while still in high school, he joined the R&B show "Black and Blues" playing at many of the area's local clubs. Just out of high school, while studying Jazz with Sony Costanzo, he became one of the original members of the "Elm City Blues Project" until he attended the Hartt School of Music where he studies under Jackie McLean. After returning home, he became a part of "Brother Clampett and the Brass Knuckle Horns," Playing extensively throughout CT. Patrick has filled in at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport, CT, and has freelanced with various groups and artists including Rocky Lawrence, "In the Pocket," Mary Taylor, "Blues Patrol", :Cobolt Rhythm Kings," "Party Line," Cecelia Callaway, "Pocket Full of Soul" and "Memphis Soul." He is currently a member of the "Kathy Thompson Band" and is in adjunct musician with the "Casey Girls Singers."
Bass and vocals.
Mike started his musical journey in the 4th grade playing trumpet (his dad played jazz trumpet and his brother spent 20 years in the Navy Band as a trombonist) and played all through high school. Growing up in the late sixties and seventies, the airwaves were filled with all kinds of great horn bands, and one naturally gravitated to the sounds of Chicago, BS&T, EWF and of course the mighty T.O.P.!!
The first time that he got the chance to see T.O.P. live was in 1979 when he and five of his friends, hitchhiked from the University of Rhode Island to UCONN’s annual spring music festival with the expressed purpose of seeing the headliner (hint: Tower of Power!).
That’s a 100 mile round trip hitch and concert in a day!!. It was 38 degrees out with a wind, not a fun day to be standing around listening to music….but when TOP hit the stage, 10,000 people instantly moved towards the stage and things got hot in a hurry as they heated things up with their funk!
It was shortly thereafter that Mike bought his first bass (Gibson Les Paul that his brother got for him) and began his love affair playing the music that still inspires him to this day.
“The ‘Serious Side’ is a dream project because I get the chance to play with other dedicated musicians playing the music that we love.” Thanks to Tower of Power for their inspiration and legacy….and thanks to Gene Z. for seeing this thru!!
JD studied with the late Joe Sebastian until he was 17, He moved on to India where he played second clarinet with the New Delhi Symphony Orchestra. He then traveled Europe and played many venues in Germany, including the 1972 Olympics. JD returned to the states and studied with saxophonist Fred Mathis. He played with many bands in the San Francisco area. JD was back in Connecticut in the 80;s and played with "Blue Eyed Soul" JD continued to study music with the Ladke Drew Salperto. Elm City Blues Band played the Foundery Cafe in New Haven Ct. In 1993, JD received his Music Education degree from the University of Bridgeport and studied with Tim Reiss who plays with the Rolling Stones. JD is the newest edition to On the Serious Side and brings his talents to the stage as second tenor sax and vocals.