September 23, 2006

Greg Adams - Cool To The Touch

The musical arrangements that trumpeter Greg Adams has created for Rod Stewart, Elton John, and Linda Ronstadt to name only a few has made him one of the ultimate musicians’ musicians. Indeed everyone from the Rolling Stones to Paul Schaffer to Madonna has called on him to contribute to their projects and, in addition, Greg’s hallmark ensemble sound has made the concept of the horn section an American treasure. Despite all that, and the huge credentials gained as founding member of the evergreen Tower of Power (ToP), it took until 1995 and his solo debut album Hidden Agenda for him to be become as well recognized outside the recording studio as he was within it. The album rocketed to number one on the smooth jazz charts and his second CD, Midnight Morning, evoked memories of the legendary arrangements he created during his many years with Tower Of Power. The critically acclaimed Firefly followed in 2004. Now he is back with a brand new release Cool To The Touch.

gregadams.jpgMore evidence of those Adams hallmark arrangements is there as early as the very first track, the foot tapping ‘Felix The Cat’. With a horn section from heaven that comprises ToP old boy Richard Elliot, Boney James, Eric Marienthal, Johnnie Bamont and Mindi Abair it’s just not possible to have too much of a good thing. The sound brings thoughts of Tower Of Power flooding back and the way the horns combine with the icy sophistication of Adams playing makes this is top notch contemporary jazz and then some. ‘One Night In Rio’ barely needs an introduction as, doing exactly what its title says, Adams flowing trumpet conjures up images of busy neon lit streets and steamy dark alleys. Equally Latin infused is ‘Bongo Baby’. Co-written by Adams and former Tower of Power guitar player Carmen Grillo it’s simply laden with Latin percussion. The ‘A Team’ horn section on duty for ‘Felix The Cat’ is back; this time joined by Paul Jackson Jr. on guitar, for the smoky crawler of a title track that Adams makes both hot (and cool) to the touch and another typically edgy Adams melody can be found on ‘Hermosa’, co-written with Joey Navarro.

Greg gets seriously funky with ‘Life In The Key Of Blue’. Johnny Sandoval’s percussion lights this one up, Paul Jackson Jr. plays a part, ex ToP regular Nick Milo is on keyboards and the great Tom Scott on sax produces interplay with Adams that is out of this world. Much more melodic yet tight and pleasing is the handsome mid tempo ‘It’s Only Love, Love’ while tight is again the operative word for ‘Hi-Fi’. This little mover is a joy to the ears and ideal therapy for a slow and difficult commute home. Adams pays his respects to Sting with his smoky interpretation of the hit ‘If I Ever Lose My Faith In You’ and, in an album as groove driven as this, ‘When The Party’s Over’ is the calm oasis in a sea of funk. Spellbinding and beautiful it is an absolutely wonderful track.

Greg Adams has the ability to bring together everything that is good in contemporary jazz. Cool To The Touch is a great example of his art and a CD well worth looking out for. Go to www.gregadamsmusic.com for more on the man and his music.

Posted by Denis Poole at September 23, 2006 4:24 PM