One of the most revered Hammond organists alive, Chester Thompson has led a charmed musical life – writing, recording and performing for four decades with two of the legendary bands to emerge in the 1960s and 1970s, Tower of Power and Santana. After moving from his native Oklahoma to the Bay Area in 1969, he became ensconced in the local jazz scene and worked with stalwart San Francisco saxophonist Jules Broussard before forming his own quartet, eventually releasing his aptly named debut, Powerhouse, on the Black Jazz label in 1971. A chance meeting with members of Oakland-based funk phenomenon Tower of Power led to a 10-year stint with the band, which began auspiciously with Thompson recording a scorching solo on their soon-to-be signature hit, “What is Hip.” The organist composed most of the band’s instrumental tunes throughout the 1970s and toured relentlessly with the band before leaving to explore new horizons with Santana. He recorded eight albums with the group, and contributed greatly to their 1999 commercial zenith Supernatural, which sold over 30 million copies and won nine GRAMMY awards, including Album of the Year. Upon leaving the Santana fold in 2009, Thompson dove headlong back into jazz and released his follow-up to Powerhouse, entitled Mixology, featuring local saxophone great Howard Wiley, who joins him for the first of these two explosive nights. The acclaimed Bay Area tenor saxophone star Robert Stewart will perform on Friday night.
Chester Thompson Hammond B-3 organ
Howard Wiley tenor saxophone (6/19)
Robert Stewart tenor saxophone (6/20)
Barry Finnerty guitar
Ron E. Beck drums
Kim Nalley vocals