Crazy 8's

The Terry Adams Rock & Roll Quartet

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Crazy 8's Review

by Mark Deming

Few musicians, regardless of genre or instrument, can communicate the pure joy of being caught up in their music the way Terry Adams does, and Crazy 8's, a live collection from Adams' Rock & Roll Quartet, is a wildly enjoyable reminder of why Adams is still one of the most irrepressible figures in American music four decades after NRBQ cut their debut album. Crazy 8's was recorded during a pair of 2009 radio sessions, and as the band's name suggests, this music finds Adams and his bandmates digging into their rock & roll influences, with covers of classic Big Joe Turner, Allen Toussaint, and Johnny Cash numbers appearing alongside a handful of Adams originals. The sound and approach of this combo won't surprise anyone familiar with Adams long tenure with NRBQ, but they swing with the same free-spirited élan, and guitarist Scott Ligon, bassist Pete Donnelly, and drummer Conrad Choucroun have the skill and the enthusiasm to keep up with Adams as he explores the melodies of these songs on his keyboards, and Ligon is also a first-rate singer who takes over on lead vocals for a few numbers. Crazy 8's is straightforward stuff, but listen carefully to this band in action, and you'll notice plenty of smart, adventurous things going on beneath the sunny surfaces, and if ever there was a response to the notion that rock & roll is dumb stuff without the imagination of jazz, this album is it. And if "Imaginary Radio" describes a broadcast outlet that exists only in Adams' head, you'd be sure to tune in if they ever got an FCC license. Like a good grilled-cheese sandwich, Crazy 8's may seem modest, but it's tasty and satisfying and more than welcome at any discerning table.

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