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Greg Adams

Greg Adams

Greg Adams

Your third solo album, FIREFLY, is following the success of your previous two discs, and the title track is getting tons of airplay on Smooth Jazz radio. All the songs on the new album are originals. Could you take us through the creative process that has yielded such a great, accessible collection of tunes?

Yes. "FireFly" is getting alot of airplay nationally. Thanks so much for spinning it on your show. James Wirrick, my co-writer and co-producer and I worked together on these songs, except for "Just Like Breathing" , which I co-wrote with Nick Milo.

James and I work like writer and lyricist respectively, more or less. We work on the music together, but most of the time I come up with the melodies, which is like the lyric. James does all the programming. I'm the old fashioned guy: pencil to paper.

This time we used more "live" musicians on many of the tracks and it really warmed up the tracks considerably. Made it more human, if you catch my drift.

Your name has become synonymous with Tower of Power over the many years you played with that band. Now that you have a successful solo career and your own incredible touring band as well, are you still in contact with T.O.P? And do you anticipate any future projects?

I left Tower in '95. I don't have much contact with them except for an occasional recording session in which a producer will call the horn section for date and me to do the arrangement. In the past, I've been invited to join them on the session a few times, but I usually just do the chart.

We did a gig last year in Miami where my band opened for Tower. Very interesting. My guys kind of considered it a "battle of the bands" since we are 9 strong and they are 10. I'll say it again: very interesting. Twenty minutes into our set, the rains came and we went. Never got up a full head of steam, but still left our mark. They were able to do their show and I was asked to join them on "What Is Hip?" I was greeted warmly by the audience as this "reunion" took place.

More recently, the original horn section,(Mic Gillette, Skip Mesquite, Doc, Mimi and myself) was reunited to play on a solo CD of Mic's. It was taped on video and can be found on Tower's web-site. I think it's on the "Horn Section" page. It had been 30 years since this particular section had played together. Wow!!

Your experiences in music since your early days as a teenage trumpet player/bandleader have been an amazing ride for you. Is there one gig or period in your career that stands out above all others as being especially exciting... a defining moment, as it were?

There are so many.

Shortly before his death, we opened for Miles Davis at the jazz festival in Nice, France. That was very cool. That gig was with Tower and it was our second year in a row to be invited back. Very rare for Nice. Sitting in with the Stones playing "Satisfaction" at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. World tours with Huey Lewis and the News. Recording with Elton John, Rod Stewart, Santana, Heart, George Martin, Linda Ronstadt, Luther Vandross and the Eurythmics are but to name a few. A Grammy nomination for my arrangement of "What Is Hip?" and the Emmy nomination with Paul Schaffer for "Late Night With David Letterman" were very high points for me also.

But if I have one defining moment, it would be my last show with Tower in Berlin, Germany. I'd been in that band for 25 years and that final gig turned out to be my springboard into my solo career. It was time for me to re-invent myself. Something I was desperate to do, and I haven't looked back.

While growing up in the Bay Area, is there one particular song or performance that stands out in memory as making an especially strong impression on you as a young child?

When I was 16, some friends of my family took me to see Duke Ellington at Basin Street West in San Francisco. They knew Duke personally and introduced me to him after the show. At the time, I was cutting my teeth as a budding composer and arranger for my high school band. I asked him if there was any advice he could give me and he said, "Just keep writing kid. You'll learn from your mistakes" That moment stays with me to this day.

How would you like to see Smooth Jazz as a format evolve in the future to remain vibrant for its base, but still attract new fans?

I think that smooth jazz needs to be a little more daring and willing to stretch the parameters of the format. I think the core audience will follow. That will attract new listeners as well. I think the listener is sometimes underestimated. The last time I checked, jazz is a word that defines spontinaity.

You've been a Bay Area guy all your life. What's your favorite non-music thing to do in the San Francisco Bay Area?

Having grown up in the Bay Area, and having toured the world several times over, I always thought that if I hadn't lived there, it would have been a favorite city to play in. Now that I live in L.A., it IS a favorite of mine. Great restaurants, hotels (my fave is Campton Place),scenery and ethnic neighborhoods are just some of the things that I took for granted until I came back as a non-resident.

But my favorite was when Tower would play New Year's Eve at Slim's. We'd stay at the Clift ( when it was the Four Seasons) and go shopping on Union Square, eat at the North Beach Restaurant or Taddich's and have cognacs in the Redwood Room back at the hotel. The gig was pretty much a distraction.

If you could be anyone else alive today for just 24 hours, who would it be?

I don't know. Regis Philbin? He seems to be the toast of the town in New York City. Yeah, Regis!!

What's your favorite charity?

The Salvation Army.

Is there an underlying philosophy of life that you can credit for the success you have achieved in your career?

Well, "Do unto others..." comes to mind. Integrity, consistency and honesty are high on the list, too.

What personal non-music goal would you most like to achieve yet in your life?

GA: I know this might not sound like a deep answer to your question, but I would like to go back to many of the cities in the world I've played in. Although this time it would be on vacation. You know, see more than a concert hall, hotel and the airport.

What's the last book you've read, and do you recommend it?

The last book I read was Al Franken's "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot". Brilliant!!

What question do you wish someone would ask you that has never been asked of you in an interview? And if you don't mind, please answer it as well.

So, what was Paris Hilton really like?

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