Ben Adams, originally from the Midwest, changed his music studies from drums to vibraphone. Later, in the mid-'90s, he studied at the Berklee School of Music with Dave Samuels, Dave Friedman and Victor Mendoza. Now based in San Francisco, the vibraphonist/composer has released a third album that displays his talents as both bandleader and writer. On his debut, The Figured Wheel
, Adams explored standards and originals; on his followup album, Music For Six
, he emphasized the compostions of Todd Brindley Herschberger. This new recording showcases the leader's own pieces.
The quintet features the two-horn front line of Erik Jekabson's trumpet and Mitch Marcus's tenor sax, supported by Fred Randolph's bass and Sameer Gupta's drums. The album begins deceptively with a peaceful and relaxing composition, "Avery's Bedtime Story," which allows lyrical work by Jekabson. "Convesation with Martin" is much more of a hard bop swinger which features a swaggering tenor sax from Marcus and then incisive vibes by Adams.
Adams intended "The Actual" as an homage to the writing of Wayne Shorter during his Miles Davis Quintet period, and the ensuing performance also bears a similarity to the saxophonist's days with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. The swirling rhythm affords Marcus an opportunity to show his affinity for Shorter's stylings. The title tune, a moody ballad, recalls Bobby Hutcherson's Blue Note dates, with shimmering vibes provided by Adams.
Personnel: Ben Adams: vibraphone; Erik Jekabson: trumpet, flugelhorn; Mitch Marcus: tenor saxophone;
Fred Randolph: bass; Sameer Gupta: drums.