Clifford Adams

The Master Power

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In perusing the liner notes to this CD, one learns that Clifford Adams has been the longtime trombonist for Kool and the Gang and that he is quite religious (which one can also surmise from his song titles). However, both facts are actually quite irrelevant when evaluating this music, for Adams is a strong, no-nonsense improviser. His sound and style are influenced most by J.J. Johnson, and the music is primarily straight-ahead and bop-oriented. While some of his originals use familiar chord changes (for example, "Master Power" is a burning run-through on "Summertime," and "Graceful Feeling" is partly reminiscent of "My Favorite Things"), the overall results are not overly predictable. Adams is a fluent and fluid player with a warm tone, and is able to sound relaxed no matter what the tempo. Pianist Kenny Barron and the rhythm section (bassist Ray Drummond, Lewis Nash and sometimes Neil Clark on percussion) are in typically fine form, while Antonio Hart (heard on alto or soprano during four of the ten selections) is a major asset, particularly on "Darshan's Love" and "Master Power." For a change of pace, Adams sings and yodels a la Leon Thomas on "Suite Elixir of Life." All in all, this is a strong debut as a leader for Clifford Adams, a trombonist who deserves to be much better known.

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