John Adams: Thumbs Up This recording is a full-fledged studio production with a fresh, contemporary sound, conveyed by strong rhythms, rich harmonies, soaring melodies and intense solos by a wide-ranging instrumentation. It contains five originals and my arrangements of some surprising classics. There are four vocal tunes and six instrumentals. The sound-quality (mixing and mastering) of the recording is impressive and is on par with projects from international artists, and the artwork is stunning. Prior to recording with the other musicians on the project, I worked off and on for a couple of months on the arrangements from a rough list of "possible" tunes. One day I was looking for something in the closet in my studio and stumbled onto a folder that contained a bunch of old hand-written original tunes. One tune that was scribbled out had no title and just a date on it. It was incomplete, but I fondly remembered the ideas in it and recalled trying to play it one time with some friends. I sat down, reworked it, thought about it, and then I knew I had my title-tune: "Thumbs Up." How ironic, and appropriate; to release a CD with a positive message, during one of the most un-positive economic times in our world in recent decades. I am so grateful for the opportunity to prepare and present this music and these musicians in this way. It has been a joy to do and has employed most of the musical and technical skills I have been able to acquire along the way. John Adams, 2009 Biography John Adams/Bass - As an accomplished acoustic and electric bassist, John Adams is one of the Southwest's most versatile and in-demand musicians. He holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the University of North Texas, where for ten years he was also the jazz bass instructor. He is also active as producer, arranger, composer, music contractor, and workshop clinician. Through his "Sessionbasstracks.com" website, John provides bass parts for recording clients ranging across the US, as well as internationally. He has backed and/or recorded for a wide array of artists including Mel Torme, Rosemary Clooney, Woody Herman, Randy Brecker, Marvin Stamm, Joe McBride, Bobby Lyle, Chet Baker, Clark Terry, Dave Liebman, Phil Driscoll, Wayne Watson, and others. His broad musical background has also included symphonic and pit/show work. Through his Congruent Music label, Adams has released eight highly acclaimed and widely varied CD projects, including the stunning "John and Mark's Excellent Rock Adventure," (2012), and "Trios Two" (2013), sequel to the "Trios" CD ('06), which feature five different trio instrumentation combinations, each with a compelling rapport. Adams' jazz CDs have received radio airplay on over 160 stations nationwide, and have been prominently featured on various online radio formats. His debut 'Jump Shot' CD ('96) features New York and regional artists, and showcases John's formidable writing skills. 'Fly By Night' ('99) features an exceptional acoustic-jazz quartet in an intimate club setting, and the tasteful and sultry, 'With You In Mind' CD ('01) showcases studio/jazz musicians from Dallas, Austin, and L.A. The "Live!' CD ('04) captures the intensity and variety of the group in concert performances. The "Thumbs Up," CD ('09) is a state-of-the-art studio production with a fresh, contemporary sound, exciting originals and stunning arrangements of some surprising classics. Band Biographies for "Thumbs Up:" Mario Cruz/saxophone - Recently relocated to the DFW-area after 25 years in New York City, performing and/or touring with an impressive list of some of music's biggest luminaries. From jazz artists Randy Brecker to Bob James, pop music icons Bruce Springsteen, "Blood, Sweat and Tears," Joe Cocker, Paul Shafer and Natalie Cole, blues legends Lou Rawls and Ray Charles, and latin music's Celia Cruz and Dave Valentin, Mario's musical interests and skills are equaled only by his diversity. As a student of the UNT School of Music he was a member of the acclaimed 'One O'Clock Lab Band," whose "Lab '80" recording features several of his compositions and arrangements. Mr. Cruz also had other pieces recorded by various ensembles including the Ft. Worth Symphony. In the early-mid 1980's Mario toured and recorded with legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius and the 'Word of Mouth' Orchestra, which featured an 'all-star' band that included 'Toots' Thielemans, Randy Brecker, Bob Mintzer, Peter Erskine, and others. During his time in New York, Mario also earned an extensive resume of TV, jingle and motion picture studio work as a player and as a composer/arranger. Mike Drake/Drums - Originally from Durban, S. Africa, drummer Mike Drake has performed and recorded music of virtually every style and genre. Mike's driving and musical approach have placed him in concerts backing an array of artists such as Rosemary Clooney, The Fifth Dimension, The Platters, The Inkspots, The Mamas and the Papas, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Kenny Rankin. Mr. Drake has also performed with numerous touring groups and house-bands, such as at the Fairmont Hotel's Venetian Room, as well as musical productions and on commercial recordings and jingles. He also has extensive experience as an arranger and writer, and is one of the region's premier drumset instructors at colleges and universities such as The University of North Texas, Eastfield College, and Texas Wesleyan University. James Kings/vocals - Mr. Kings is an accomplished vocalist and keyboardist, deeply-rooted in classical music, gospel, R & B, and jazz. His seemingly effortless vocals convey a beautiful mix of power and grace. James has accompanied nationally acclaimed gospel artists such as Andre Crouch, BeBe Winans, Thomas Whitfield, Lamar Campbell, Byron Cage, and others. He has also performed and toured with a host of Dallas-area jazz artists including Tom Braxton (whom he worked with alongside bassist John Adams), W.T. Greer, Martha Burks, Keith Anderson, Cindy Horstman, and Joe Vincelli. James Kings made a notable 'cameo' appearance on Adams' 'With You In Mind' CD, with his soaring vocal on the tune 'Nature Boy.' Along with freelance vocal and keyboard work, including performing with the John Adams Group, James is currently the music director at Mount Hebron Baptist Church, Garland, TX. Noel Johnston/Guitar - Producer, composer and educator, Noel has become one of the Dallas-area's most active and widely recorded musicians. He has performed and/or recorded with artists such as Alex Acuna, John Adams, Joey Baron, Ignacio Berroa, Vinnie Colaiuta, Wayne Delano, Sheila E., Dan Haerle, Fred Hamilton, Pete LaRoca, Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, Monica Mancini, Adam Nussbaum, The One O'Clock Lab Band, Lynn Seaton, Ed Soph, Paul Tynan, Bill Watrous, Gary Willis, and Kenny Wheeler. Noel is currently on faculty as a Jazz Guitar instructor at the University of North Texas. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Studio/Jazz Guitar from the University of Southern California and a Master of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of North Texas. He has previously served on the faculty at Wesley Institute for Ministry & the Arts in Sydney, Australia, and at Grayson County College in Denison, TX. In 2006 he opened the highly successful Lonestar Academy, a multi-faceted music instruction facility in Flower Mound, TX. Sean McCurley/Drums - As a member of the Kirk Whalum Band since 1994, Sean has played venues and festivals from worldwide, including numerous TV appearances. His talent also has supported the tours of other artists such as Lee Ann Rhimes, George Duke, Joe Sample, Jonathan Butler, Boney James, Philippe Saisse, Jeff Golub, Bobby Lyle, Bernard Wright, Peter White, Rick Braun, Marc Antoine, and others. Sean's skill and versatility also frequently places him on jingle and commercial recording sessions, as well as backing a vast spectrum of local DFW-artists and composers such as Tom Faulkner, Anna Grey, Jim Hodges, Joe McBride, Tom Braxton, and Keith Anderson. Brian Piper/Keyboards - Brian is one of the most sought-after studio/commercial writers and keyboardists in the southwest. First as a vice-president and writer for Axcess Broadcasting Inc., and now as owner of his own production company (BPM) he has written and recorded literally thousands of pieces of music for everything from jingles to films to albums. Illustrative of Piper's musical diversity is his long-standing position he held as pianist for country star Jerry Jeff Walker. Mr. Piper has played and conducted for a vast array of local and international artists and groups, including Rosemary Clooney, Eartha Kitt, Cab Calloway, Joel Grey, Kris Kristofferson, The Ink Spots, The Dallas Summer Musicals, and the Vocal Majority. Brian brings a wonderful combination of virtuosity, creativity, and musical integrity to every performance.
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