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Milestones

George Adams, anyone?

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Anyone into the music of George Adams?  He seems like a somewhat forgotten figure, despite his great work in some late-period Mingus and of course the quartet with Don Pullen.  I remember back in the day being very pleased with Breakthrough by Adams/Pullen on Blue Note, and I had their second Blue Note album also (on cassette) which was nearly as good.  But the group never got the visibility is deserved.

I know he played for quite awhile with Gil Evans (I don't know this work), and he made some appearances with Tyner.

Spotify is allowing me get a good look at the Pullen/Adams group.

Edited by Milestones

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I've got a smattering of Adams with various groups but not by the  Pullen/Adams Quartet.  Phalanx, and especially two of his Blue Notes, Nightingale and America often find their way onto my cd player.

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Oh, hear him playing The Meaning Of The Blues with Gil (CD version preferable, but LP version certainly fine).

And "St. Louis Blues" with Johnny Copeland.

Old Feeling, his last BN side, is absolutely sunny in its disposition!

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I've got most of his recordings; he was rather fantastic.

In the early '90s, I was in New York a night the Mingus Big Band was performing at the Fez and was hopeful of seeing George Adams with them, so I asked the young woman at the door if George Adams would be there that night, and she said, no, they carried him out on a stretcher the prior week. 

 

 

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43 minutes ago, Milestones said:

Adams and Pullen both left us much too early.

So true.

I love George Adams' music. The man made a GORGEOUS sound on the saxophone. 

I think Adams was at his best when he played with Don Pullen.  Earth Beams is GA/DP Quartet record that I return to most frequently. 

R-4137225-1357555220-5964.jpeg.jpg

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11 hours ago, HutchFan said:

So true.

I love George Adams' music. The man made a GORGEOUS sound on the saxophone. 

I think Adams was at his best when he played with Don Pullen.  Earth Beams is GA/DP Quartet record that I return to most frequently. 

R-4137225-1357555220-5964.jpeg.jpg

Yes - Earth Beams is one of their best, for sure! I was fortunate to see the Quartet a few times. Unfortunately, never saw Mingus.

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Saw them leave as well, count myself very fortunate to have done so. It was around the time that 'Don't Lose Control' on Timeless came out and they play material from that one I recall. Wim Wigt used to bring them over to Europe.

Edited by sidewinder

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The two Mingus Changes records were where I first heard him at the start of my jazz record buying. Had a couple of the Adams/Pullens too. Loved the roughness mixed with lyricism with the occasional jump into freer passages.  

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My favourite playing by both is on 'Mingus Moves' on Atlantic. A very under-rated album IMO.

In my Toronto days there was a club over there that had a very interesting oil portrait of Pullen at the piano for sale. Would have loved to have got it but at several grand $ it was pretty well out of range.

Edited by sidewinder

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47 minutes ago, sidewinder said:

My favourite playing by both is on 'Mingus Moves' on Atlantic. A very under-rated album IMO.

I don't know that one. 

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15 hours ago, JSngry said:

Oh, hear him playing The Meaning Of The Blues with Gil (CD version preferable, but LP version certainly fine).

And "St. Louis Blues" with Johnny Copeland.

Old Feeling, his last BN side, is absolutely sunny in its disposition!

C'mon jsngry Tenorman. Surely you can wax more lyrical than this about one of the true warriors :)

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Mingus Moves in indeed a fine record--one of the best from Mingus' last decade.  

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7 hours ago, Milestones said:

Mingus Moves in indeed a fine record--one of the best from Mingus' last decade.  

That one was my introduction to Adams and Pullen.  And Changes 1/2, which came next, my introduction to Jack Walrath.  The last GREAT Mingus band, and must-have recordings.  I thought Adams was a fantastic player,  but his own worst enemy at times in terms of material/approach.  The blues singer act got old very fast for me, and John Scofield damages some of the  Pullen/Adams stuff to my ears, but I own it all and don't plan to part with it.

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I was lucky enough to hear Mingus bands a few times in that era.

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59 minutes ago, Chuck Nessa said:

I was lucky enough to hear Mingus bands a few times in that era.

I wouldn't expect any LESS, Chuck!

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I saw that Mingus band twice in Toronto: Once doing a benefit for Ed Blackwell and once at a rock club: The El Mocambo.  Both times Adams did the spinning around bit while he soloed. I thought it was corny and terrific at the same time. At the El Mo they actually played Happy Birthday for someone. According to Bill Smith, Mingus chased him around the club  yelling that Bill was trying to steal his piano player because Bill and John Norris were recording Pullen  for Sackville-- a a recording session  I was lucky enough to attend. 

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It hasn't been mentioned yet, but "Sound Suggestions" on ECM is a record that holds up -- interesting to hear George with Beirach/Holland/DeJohnette and how the group finds a balance between the pianist's more formal and advanced harmonic language and George's homegrown harmonic "looseness." Rhythmically, everyone is bashing together in a good way. Doesn't really sound like a working band but rather one of those days in the studio with good cats and a good vibe. Plus, you get Kenny Wheeler in the mix. I used to play "Imani's Dance" with my group in Urbana.

Edited by Mark Stryker

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To me, George Adams (and also Don Pullen) was one of the most significant musicians of the ´70s. It was the time when I was young and it was a time of stylistic  transition: Many fans said "acoustic jazz is out", others said  "harmonies and melodies is out and free is the thing", and so on, but  for many musicians it was  a challenge to create a "link" between straight ahead and avantgarde, and George Adams is one of the best examples of that generation: I´ll never forget the first time I heard him with Mingus. The way how Adams would start in a more conventional manner and then get out quickly doin his thing, but never leaving the form and the structure of the song. That´s what was great. I told that so many guys who thought they great cause they can go "far out" but couldn´t do a 12 bar blues:D

Sure I still heard a lot of him even after Mingus died, the great collaboration with Pullen and Richmond, and some other projects, yeah with McCoy that was great. I´m not soooo much into the later Gil Evans stuff, somehow I missed that.

The last time I saw Adams was some really sad thing with some "Mingus Ghost Band" led by Jimmy Knepper (1989, 1990 ???), who imho was one of the best trombonists to play Mingus´ music, but that last try of Mingus revival was just a very disappointing appearence and anyway Adams didn´t get much space..... and Knepper wasn´t interested at all in what he was doin on that occasion...

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So do we call Mingus Big Band a "ghost" band?  If so, it's one of the best there has ever been in.

I think the big band started up around the time Adams passed away, so I'm not sure if he was ever a part. But he was a key player in the 7-piece group on Mingus Dynasty: Next Generation--a fine record. 

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3 hours ago, Milestones said:

So do we call Mingus Big Band a "ghost" band?  If so, it's one of the best there has ever been in.

I think the big band started up around the time Adams passed away, so I'm not sure if he was ever a part. But he was a key player in the 7-piece group on Mingus Dynasty: Next Generation--a fine record. 

well as I said there was one edition of a Mingus Ghost Band that I saw live , I think it was 1989, yeah 89 cause Diz also was there with an All Star Band.

The "Mingus Band" had Jimmie Knepper conducting, from the Mingus Alumni I recognized a quite subdued George Adams, John Handy. Danny Richmond had died already, it was Billy Hart on drums, anyway it was the last occasion I saw Adams.

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The Mingus Big Band started in 1991 (perhaps earlier). It performed one night a week, at the Fez, a basement club in the Time Café. I saw the group there many times, it was a great venue for a big band. (After the Time Café closed the band relocated to the Iridium, and now it is at Jazz Standard.) George Adams was in the early version of the band. I didn't personally see him in the band (I first saw the band there in 1992), but see link to New York Times article from September of 1991 listing personnel as including George Adams.

http://www.nytimes.com/1991/09/26/arts/pop-and-jazz-in-review-372791.html

The early versions of the band that I saw also included the trombonist Britt Woodman.

 

Edited by kh1958

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I played with George in Mingus Epitaph and he brought it every night. 

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Anyway it seems that Adams was best known or remembered for his time with Mingus. I think from 73-75 ? (if I remember right, after 75 it was Ricky Ford instead of Adams, and first Danny Mixon instead of Pullen, later of cours Bob Neloms, that´s maybe the last time I saw the band?) .

But again, I´d like to mention why I have such great memories of musicians like George Adams: I was a newbie and first it seemed I preferred to listen to hard bop, to 50´s Miles, to 50´s BlueNote Stuff which was easy listening for a starter. More advanced fans laughed me off and kept tellin me to open up my mind and learn about what´s goin on. Completly free stuff like Contempory Five or Cecil Taylor was to hard for me, but with musicians like George Adams I could learn to open up, cause through their music they showed me there´s just one thing "music", there´s no gap between old and new things, it just flows. George Adams, Dave Murray all those great musicians from that generation.......

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One could add Arthur Blythe, Lester Bowie, Henry Threadgill and Adams' cohort Don Pullen--guys deep in the tradition but also with free and exploratory leanings.  They could go "out" and still be accessible.

 

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