Clifford Adams: The Master Power
All-Star Cast. In what is ostensibly his debut as a leader, trombonist Clifford Adams assembles a jazz who's who of side persons to help him on his quest. That quest, realized on The Master Power is both musical and spiritual (in my mind the same). Adams has enjoyed a varied and fulfilling career in music, playing with everyone from the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band to Wynton Marsalis. He was also a founding member of the 1970s funk band, Kool and the Gang. Because of his notoriety, Adams was able to assemble a band any leader would die for and cut a superb collection of standards and originals (according to the liner notes, all recorded in a single six-hour session).
What about the Band?. Joining Adams on his debut are Antonio Hart on Alto and Soprano Saxophones, Kenny Barron on Piano, Ray Drummond on Bass, Lewis Nash on Drums, and Neil Clark on Percussion. Whoa! What a band. And do they swing, from beginning to end. Ray Drummond walks, then runs his way through a superb solo on "Walkin'". Antonio Hart's soprano shares the conviction or Adams' vocals on "Suite Elixir of Life". "I Can't Get Started" is latinesque, propelled by Neil Clarke's percussion who also has a brief solo break on "With His Grace". Kenny Barron is his understated, urbane self throughout the recording, shining on "Darshan's Love" and "Precious Jewel". Lewis Nash provides the essential underpinning to make the whole session swing. Hard.
The Leader. Clifford Adams is in charge of his instrument. His debut is a straight-ahead delight that I have had spinning for some days now. His tone is full and certain, brimming with the conviction expressed by the titles of his originals and the lyrics of "Suite Elixir of Life". Warmly recommended.
Naxos Jazz. This recording is among the third wave of Naxos Jazz releases, all of which have been review within these electric pages by this critic. I have found that all of these recordings have been of a very high quality. All, for the most part, have been recorded live direct to two track digital, preserving that special spontaneity that is jazz. Naxos Jazz has also provided a wide variety of styles and performances, all executed superbly. The other recent Naxos Jazz recordings include Donny McCaslin's Exile and Discovery (Naxos Jazz 86014-2), Flipside's Flipside (Naxos Jazz 86013-2), the Mike Nock Quintet's Ozboppin' (Naxos Jazz 86019-2), Bill Cunliffe's Bill Plays Bud (Naxos Jazz 86011-2), and Larry Karush's Art of the Improviser (Naxos Jazz 86011-2).
Track Listing: Darshan's Love, I Can't Get Started, Graceful Feeling, Renatyah, The Lord is Always With Them, With His Grace, Walkin' Suite Elixir of Life, Precious Jewel, Master Power.
Personnel: Clifford Adams: Trombone, Antonio Hart: Alto and Soprano Saxophones, Kenny Barron: Piano, Ray Drummond: Bass, Lewis Nash: Drums, Neil Clark: Percussion.