The John Adams Group
his powerful yet elegant ensemble performs a wide spectrum from originals, standards and smooth-jazz, to arrangements of contemporary pop and movie themes. Led by bassist and composer John Adams, The JOHN ADAMS GROUP is comprised of some of the finest, most versatile studio/jazz musicians and vocalists in the Southwest. Adams’ group regularly appears in a variety of configurations, from duo to six-piece, at festivals, concert series, colleges, churches, and special events of all kinds in the DFW area and throughout Texas and the southern U.S.
John Adams –
As an accomplished acoustic and electric bassist, John Adams is one of the Southwest’s most versatile and in-demand musicians. Adams holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the University of North Texas, where for ten years he was 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 in UK, Australia, Singapore, Turkey, Canada, Greece and others. He has backed, toured and/or recorded for a wide array of artists such as Mel Torme, Rosemary Clooney, Phil Driscoll, Wayne Watson, Woody Herman, Randy Brecker, Marvin Stamm, Joe McBride, Bobby Lyle, Carl Fontana, Chet Baker, Clark Terry, Dave Liebman, and others. His broad musical background has also included symphonic and pit/show work.
Through his independent Congruent Music label, Adams has released eight highly acclaimed and widely varied CD projects, including this project “John and Mark’s Excellent Rock Adventure,” (2012), and which includes unique instructional/play-along tools.
Adams’ jazz CD projects 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. The “Trios,” (’06) and the brand new sequel “Trios Two” (2013) projects both feature five different trio instrumentations/combinations, each with a compelling rapport.
Members of the John Adams Group appearing in various configurations:
Mario Cruz/Saxophone –
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 Shaffer 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 studio work as a player, composer, and arranger.
Mike Drake/Drums –
Originally from Durban, South 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, 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 Rimes, 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, Annagrey, Quentin Hope, 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.
Ed Soph/Drums –
Ed’s drumming provides a rare and dynamic combination of technical virtuosity, rhythmic ingenuity, and musical sensitivity. A native of Houston, Ed Soph studied classical percussion as well as jamming with local jazz greats Arnett Cobb, Jimmy Ford and Don Wilkerson. As an alumnus of North Texas State’s One O’Clock Lab Band, Ed moved on to New York. From there he toured and recorded internationally with jazz legends such as Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Bill Evans, Joe Henderson, Dave Liebman, Slide Hampton, Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, and many others. Since returning to Texas in 1987, Ed Soph has served as head of the jazz percussion department at the University of North Texas, and maintains a busy schedule as a performer, recording artist and clinician nationwide.
Ed is an Artist Clinician for the Yamaha Corporation of America, the Avedis Zildjian Company, Evans Drumheads, and Innovative Percussion, makers of Ed’s signature stick.
Jason “JT” Thomas/Drums –
“JT” began playing at age 3 and by age 7 was already performing weekly in gospel church services. Also during his elementary school years JT began playing from time to time with the jazz band at Weatherford (TX) College. At the age of 16, Mr. Thomas began performing professionally, in a vast array of genres from Top-40/cover bands, blues, to rock, latin and jazz groups of every stripe. Jason Thomas regularly tours with noted artists such as Roy Hargrove (RH Factor), Marcus Miller, Fred Hammond, Tamela Mann, & many others. When not on the road JT maintains dense including recording session work, as well as playing for “The Marcus & Joni Show” on the Daystar Television Network, church gigs, and performing with many with different local DFW bands and jazz groups.
Stefan Karlsson/Piano –
A native of Sweden, Stefan Karlsson came to the United States in 1984 to study at the University of North Texas where he earned bachelor and master degrees. Following teaching posts at several other colleges, in 2005 Stefan’s career came full circles as he joined the esteemed jazz faculty at North Texas. Stefan has been a member of the Eddie Gomez Trio and Quartet since 1996, and been part of six of Eddie’s CD projects.
Stefan is also highly active as a jazz recording artist, and his discography includes sixty-eight recordings and eight as a leader. His solo piano recording, Smilin’ Eyes (Bebyne Records), has received much praise by critics both in Europe and the US. As a composer, Stefan’s music was featured in movie releases such as Sugar Hill (featuring Wesley Snipes), Twenty Bucks (featuring Christopher Lloyd), and other productions. Stefan’s music was also frequently heard on several television series such as Melrose Place, Party of Five, Wings and Homicide.
Stefan’s extensive travel has taken him both as a performer and clinician to Japan, China, Thailand, Korea, Taiwan, Venezuela, Brazil, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Scotland, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Mexico, and throughout the US. He has performed and/or recorded with such jazz greats as: John Brown, Jesse Davis, Herb Ellis, Carl Fontana, Steve Gadd, Tim Hagans, Steve Houghton, Clay Jenkins, Marc Johnson, Larry Koonse, Joe LaBarbera, Red Mitchell, Dick Oatts, Rich Perry, Mike Pope, Chris Potter, Rufus Reid, Adonis Rose, Bob Sheppard, Marvin ‘Smitty” Smith, Ed Soph, Marvin Stamm, Tom Warrington, Jim White, Jiggs Wigham, Eliot Zigmund, and many others.