Smitty: Joining me at Jazz Monthly.com is one of the most dynamic trumpeters in the business. I just love his horn playing. You no doubt remember him from his days with Tower of Power, those fantastic records during that time. No doubt you remember the beginning of his solo career with great records such as Firefly and Hidden Agenda, and you’ve got to hear his latest offering; it called Cool To The Touch. It is fantastic! Please welcome the man with the golden mute, the fantastic and so talented Mr. Greg Adams. Greg, how ya doin’?
Greg Adams (GA): Great, Smitty. Glad to be here.
Smitty: Yes indeed. Man, I love this record, wow. It’s got some great tunes. What a creative book of music; there’s some straight, there’s some smooth, there’s some dance, there’s some pop…I mean, there’s a lot of diversity with this great record.
GA: Thanks. It’s the fourth record and you always try to top your last one, and I’m real happy with it. It was a nice mix of songs. Usually I co-produce with my songwriting partner, James Wirrick, but he and I produced half the record and then I produced the other five songs on my own and wrote with other writers on this, so it was like we really changed it up. It was nice. It spelled a nice refreshing change, although I wasn’t unhappy about my last three records at all. It’s kind of healthy to try to reinvent.
Smitty: Oh yes. Man, that’s the creative spirit, you know?
GA: Yeah, yeah.
GA: We’re real happy with the outcome.
Smitty: Yes, when I first put the record on, I just found myself kinda snappin’ my fingers and kinda be-boppin’. I said, man, I love that mute!
GA: Yes, it’s kind of a trademark sound of mine. Obviously you probably noticed the horn section behind me on the first cut, “Felix the Cat.”
Smitty: Yes. Man, that is a poppin’ tune, I love that groove. Well, I bumped into you just recently. You were sitting in at Spaghettini’s in Los Angeles. I remember that day. It was a beautiful day.
GA: Right, absolutely. It was Althea Rene, right?
Smitty: Yeah, Althea Rene and I were there, yeah. You remember that?
GA: Oh yeah, she’s a great flute player. As a matter of fact, we’ve kept in touch and I just spoke to her, oh, maybe a couple weeks ago, and just seeing what she’s up to, keeping tabs on her. I think she’s a great talent.
Smitty: Yes, she’s a fantastic musician, I tell ya, and I just love her whole personality, her whole vibe.
Smitty: Boy, wouldn’t it be nice to mix that flute with that great horn of yours? That would be sweet.
GA: Well, you never know. Stranger things have happened.
Smitty: Yes indeed, my friend. So, now, talk to me a little bit about “Felix the Cat.” Why that tune? I mean, I love it, but how did you come up with doing that one?
GA: Well, you know, it’s kinda funny. The usual setup for the kind of work I’m known for and writing and arranging for horn sections that we’ve played with everybody under the sun with over the years, is usually two trumpets, two trombones and maybe three saxophones, and I just thought if I could put together a saxophone quintet, it would be behind my muted trumpet, and it would be kind of a cool texture, so I got out the old phone book and I called Richard Elliot and Boney James and Mindi Abair and Eric Marienthal and my saxophone player in my band, Johnnie Bamont, and we put together this little power saxophone quintet.
Smitty: Yes, powerful stuff.
GA: Two altos, two tenors and a bari….and put it on “Felix” and the title cut “Cool To The Touch,” and we kinda played off of each other, trumpet against saxes and stuff like that, and it came out really good, and also on that track is Vinnie Colaiuta, who played with Sting and he’s played with a lot of people. And Leland Sklar, who plays with Phil Collins, he’s played with everybody too. They’re all old friends of mine and so I kinda stacked the deck with this record with the people I mentioned there and also Paul Jackson, Jr. is on a couple of cuts and the legendary Tom Scott on saxophone. So we just really changed it up. It was kind of a big refreshing thing to do. I mean, I used my guys in my band on some tracks too, but I just kinda salt and peppered it a little bit with some name players.
Smitty: Yeah, man, you selected some monster players and I remember saying, boy, this is the battle of the horns.