Greg Adams | East Bay Soul 2.0

Greg Adams - East Bay Soul 2.0

Greg Adams | East Bay Soul 2.0
(Greg Adams Music)
By George Strand

While much of today’s contemporary/smooth jazz music is dominated by certain brass and wind instruments [sax, flute, trombone (Shorty), etc.], we as aficionados in appreciation of the art should never squeeze out the space still made available for the grace of the trumpet – a very powerful horn in the brass family. Perhaps a good dose of the sound of the trumpet and Flugelhorn from Greg Adams, founding/long-time member of hit R&B band Tower of Power might do the trick. Mr. Adams delivers another touch of the funk and soul in East Bay Soul 2.0, an excellent collection of compositions ever-so-reminiscent of the enormous participation he has consistently produced on over 500 recordings to date.

Adams is joined by such stellar musicians as Michael Paulo, Dwayne “Smitty” Smith, Joey Navarro, Herman Matthews, Lee Thornburg, Darryl Walker and others. It appeared to me that Mr. Adams quite possibly may have developed his OWN ‘Tower of Power’ ensemble while discovering the many talents of the session players he enlisted – not to mention that Greg had his hand in composing on 9 of the 10 tracks.

The lead track “The Getaway” pitches a high density, funk flavored, head-noddin’, old school experience only players from the ’70’s/’80’s may relate to. Hopefully our generation of today will grasp the overall exuberance that this single intended for them to do – that is to GROOVE. Darryl Walker’s opening lead vocal to “The Love of My Life” extends the value of how soft and delicate a heartwarming slow ballad can be to the listener. The high quality of the lyrics receives an early PLUS grade. No booty call music here, folks – just a plain and simple, solid slow jam with real meaning.

The mid-tempo delight “To Catch A Thief,” showcasing Greg Adams on the Flugelhorn, is dynamic. That its inspiration drawn from a 1954 Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same name is quite interesting, to say the least. The ‘horn section’ stood out in “Back To Oakland” while “Brassalicious” spoke out for itself. Take a listen. We are talking about a performance from his group of horn players you will not believe. “What’s Goin’ On” – the classic Marvin Gaye treasure – was re-touched by the group. It’s not as polished as I hoped for it to be but there is more than enough effort and continuity shared by the group to keep the track interesting.

I enjoyed the listen of East Bay Soul 2.0 but what truly intrigued me is how the project came about. The recording was funded by Greg’s fan-base – 100% of it…very impressive. And in return, I don’t believe Mr. Adams disappointed his jazzy friends. Staying true to his roots, the CD kept a good balance of engaging, impassioned melodies and a supreme mix of the power of the brass instrument in full rotation. Whenever you get a project like this that maximizes the overall connection and the high spirited interaction of a full-scale band, you better believe something is going to go down. Greg made sure of it.

I give him props and lay out 4+ stars out of 5.

George Strand
The Urban Music Scene