"Paul Adams may well be the most important New Age personality since George Winston." - San Jose,CA METRO
"People are generally frightened by diversity", states Luthier, Composer, and Multi-Instrumentalist Paul Adams. "It does have its commercial setbacks, but it's natural for me. I love the idea of unity within diversity, so I try to encompass many cultures and traditions in my music."
Adams' multifarious past was birthed from a musical father and artistic mother. "Dad introduced me to Louis Armstrong and Besse Smith. Mom would paint, have a glass of wine and float through the house listening to Liszt and Beethoven. I've loved the romantic composers ever since. I've always loved big band jazz and am proud that my cousin Mike Wallace was trombonist with Stan Kenton for many years. Slowly , other influences like Pete Seeger, The Beatles, Zappa, Cage, Terry Riley and many others took root.
Eventually Adams enrolled as a student of Ethnomusicology under Dr. Joel Maring at Southern Illinois University where he became interested in building ethnic and exotic musical instruments. Having received commissions from such luminaries as Daryl Hall, members of Stevie Wonder, The Pointer Sisters, and others was a rich reward in itself but, "making music was really my first love - I just needed to battle the terrible shy's." It was during this period that he began composing commercials for such companies as Subaru, Motorola, Caterpillar, John Deer, Bryant Air conditioning, Nordica Ski Boots and others.
"(Paul Adams) A master of mood and melody whose arrangements vary widely in scope. Thankfully, he avoids the tonal tediousness of many in his sonic school!" - Coral Springs, Parkland Forum
The next natural progression was his critically acclaimed debut album Various Waves. Various' marriage of Jazz, New Age, Folk and other Ethnic traditions struck the right chord with many fans and critics alike!! It was placed in the TOP FIVE of new releases for 1990 by Musical Starstreams, the largest commercially syndicated instrumental radio show in America. The album also achieved regular rotation on other syndicated shows such as ECHO's heard on over 150 National Public Radio affiliates.
The need to stretch and combine the influences of Gamalon, Indian, African and other world musics he studied in school resulted in Wonder Dancing On Global Bop, a fusion of elements that also include Flamenco, Jazz, and a touch of Bluegrass. "John Deliberto from the radio show ECHO's was an integral part in it's success," says Adams. "His constant air play and very kind review in Tower Records PULSE Magazine helped a great deal!"
Next came the acoustic landscape A View From The Plain. "This CD is my ode to the Prairie, as well as a nod to folks like John Fahey, Leo Kottke and David Grissman. I wanted to offer a thematic album that utilized the drop thumb style of guitar that was so influential to me. I also wanted it to be sweet and gentle, with an element of energy and humor."
When Adams' friend Dave Hoffman left for his world tour as Ray Charles' Trumpet/Flugelhorn soloist, he dropped off a bag full of DAT tapes and gave Paul carte blanche to make an album. "I bumped everything to my multitrack, and added a touch of this 'n that" ( a few keyboard pads, thickening of certain areas, and a tad of guitar, harmonica, and percussion. ). "Dave hates to name tunes, so I titled the most of the songs, and named the album From Energy To Stillness, a reflection of the album as well as Daves character. When he came off tour, he made changes to my changes, and that was that. A very cool and informal way to make an album! I'm so proud ( and a little jealous ) that this CD has shown to be one of the most popular!!"
"A large part of the artistic process is growth and risk. Because it's really my strongest instrument, I always knew I had to use my voice." It was however, another duel with the "shy's". His album In The Land Where I Come From was the next progressive step. "Because I'm primarily known as an instrumentalist, I wanted to keep the vocals level with the instrumentation. I also wanted the album to swing, and integrate my poetry in a mystical/musical context. So, using harmonies with my voice was the most logical choice. That's how the song I Wanna Dance, and Breathe came about. I was also very lucky to have some wonderful players such as Dave Hoffman, Kit Watkins (from Happy The Man and Camel), Doug Knecht, Mark Smith and Dr Kyle Gregory lend their talents as well!"
Carol Wright from New Age Voice Magazine writes that, "the temperature of the album is cool, shaking hands with poetry, and feathering pictures in the clouds. I've seen him perform and he is compelling to watch!"
Adams also works in the mental health field. Moving to a musical center like LA or Nashville has been a nagging question, but he says he learns more about the artistic experience from these clients than he could ever repay! "There's a sense of challenge and perspective when you see lifes PRIME ISSUES written on the faces of those who suffer. The courage shown by these individuals would humble many of the shiny shoed movers and shakers that run the - ah em - REAL WORLD. We helpers are the students."
He hopes to release a book of poetry in the future as well as a short story about a fictional place called Butterland (based on the last two tunes from the album In The Land Where I Come From). "...It's an elfishly polyunsaturated place with rolling hills, and furry plump Butterlanders who've come to realize that being smart isn't necessarily the completion of the human equation."
Adams has written feature articles on philosophical, musical, and artistic subjects as well as a regular music column in The NAPRA Trade Review magazine. "I really enjoy writing about the artistic experience - especially in areas of perception. When you think about it, music is a very wacky art form. Like film ( Adams' cousin Bruce Evans was the academy award nominated screenwriter for the movie Stand By Me), it has a very close alliance with commerce. I see alot of musical craft out there, but not alot of art."
He goes on to say that, "much of the perception of one piece of art being superior to another is based on the music industries various elements of measurement" (sales figures, adrenalin/sexual/controversy response, etc etc). In business, the ability to predict and control is essential. It just shouldn't be the ONLY tool of validation. Independent thought and evaluation was a gift given me by my mother ( sometimes to her own chagrin! ), and a wonderful English Literature teacher I had in college. She would encourage us to evaluate prose on its own merits AND, allow us independent choice of interpretation. I think it's that independent appreciation of a wide variety of art that led to my interest in making albums that cross many genres!"
"I find it interesting that Miles Davis once commented that commercials seem to be the most fertile area for cutting edge music. I think he was referring to the one dimensionality of radio programing, as well as the major labels fear in taking artistic risk. Having vision that is global, varietal, and freely painted is the most exciting thing in music today! I have hope that this new technology helps create new vistas in using color, rhythm, and texture, as well as melodic statement to get its point across!"
"Paul Adams has some of the classiest, most stylish and enduring instrumental albums around!" - Carol Wright NAPRA Trade Review