The horn arrangements that Greg Adams created for Tower of Power has made him one of the ultimate musiciansí musicians Ė everyone from the Rolling Stones to Paul Schaffer to Madonna has called on him to contribute to their projects. But it was with Greg Adamsí 1995 solo debut, Hidden Agenda (Epic), which went all the way to #1 on the smooth jazz charts, that Adams finally became as well recognized outside the studio as he is in it.
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Now, the much-anticipated follow-up, Midnight Morning, finally sees the light of day. Adams finally took a break from his relentless session work with artists and movie scores that read like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame alumni list including Lyle Lovett, Elton John, Boz Scaggs, Quincy Jones, Bobby McFerrin, and Neil Diamond, as well as with countless other new and international artists including Everclear and Japanese pop sensation Dreams Come True, to get around to giving fans a second helping.
While Hidden Agenda was a proper public introduction, showcasing Adamsí famous punchy, bright, over-the-top sound he made famous with Tower of Power, (and incidentally created a wake of newbie trumpet players trying to cop Adamsí muted trumpet sound Ė a compliment which still makes Adams laugh), look for Midnight Morning to deliver something sultrier, sexy, and heavy with mood.
Adams, as a Grammyģ- and Emmyģ- nominated artist, has been ubiquitous all over the pop culture landscape for nearly four decades. Youíve heard his contributions in the opening theme of "The Late Show" with David Letterman and on musical score arrangements for such films as Duets, Mask, Little Big League, and Top Gun. Santana, Linda Ronstadt, Huey Lewis (Remember the horns on Fore? Thatís Greg Adams), Luther Vandross, the Eurythmics, Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, Enrique Iglesias, and even his hometown baseball team, the San Francisco Giants, have all tapped him to arrange music.
Adams started out gigging and composing early; you can call him something of a wunderkind. Adams walked into his Bay Area high school as first trumpet chair. By the time he was a junior, he was writing arrangements for the entire band. ("It was the best training ground," says Adams. "I had a 15-piece band to experiment with every week.") By night, he was at Bill Grahamís Fillmore, four, five nights a week, hanging until the last musician had packed their gear. "James Brown. Blood, Sweat & Tears. Chicago. I would just hang Ö stay to the bitter end," says Adams. "I guess you could say I was a bit of a pest [laughs]. 35 years later, Iím still bumping into those guys. We can laugh about it now. They canít believe I was that little kid." And just as Adams was packing his Volkswagen Bug to trek cross-country to start the prestigious program at Berklee College of Music, Tower of Power tapped his shoulder to join the band.
"I figured, I could go to college and dream about what it would be like to be a professional musician, or I could just start," says Adams. "Tower of Power was like my Ďcollegeí. Those were incredible years. I remember being 22 and sitting in the Abbey Road studios, touching the keys of the very same piano that Paul McCartney used to compose "Maybe Iím Amazed." Itís the kind of thing that makes you smile on the inside. I was thinking if I went to college, maybe Iíd have a chance to be what Iím doing now. I guess I made the right choice. Touring with Tower of Power really opened some incredible doors for me. Not to sound braggadocios, but name any musician and Iíve probably worked with them. Itís been an incredible rideÖ"
The ride hasnít slowed since. Hidden Agenda enjoyed not only #1 record rotation with his evocative instrumental take on Sadeís "Smooth Operator," the album was also at the top of jazz sales charts for over five weeks. Advance enthusiasm from top jazz programmers from around the country suggests that reception for Midnight Morning will just as enthusiastic.
Look for the ethereal ballad "Andrea" (inspired by Adamsí wife) to be the first single. Adams cut a special radio edit single, but look for the lush, full-length track on the album. Other notable songs from the album include moving instrumental versions of Toni Braxtonís "Breathe Again" and Stingís "Wrapped Around Your Finger." And for the hardcore fans who are still trying to forgive Adams for leaving Tower of Power after 25 ground-breaking years with the band, Adams offers up the last track of the album, "Roadhouse" Ė as a rousing send-off, to let them know that he hasnít forgotten his funk-laden R&B roots.
Though he loves his Los Angeles home, Adams is looking forward to getting away from the cushy confines of sound-engineered studio walls and canít wait for the unpredictability and spontaneity of performing live when he tours nationally in support of Midnight Morning. As a treat for fans, he is taking an extravagant nine-piece band on the road, one that includes a decadent four-piece horn section. The supporting band also reads like a "whoís who" list of musicians, who individually have also performed with legends too numerous to name. "Weíve already previewed the set in clubs around Los Angeles, and letís just say it goes over like watermelon at a Fourth of July picnic."
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