Since 1996, Congruent Music Co. has served as John Adams’ independent record label, producing and promoting numerous releases, including jazz and rock CDs, and backing-tracks and instructional DVDs. Each one is beautifully packaged, with full-color artwork, and each with a different instrumentation, personnel, and stylistic blend.
John Adams: Shelter
John Adams: Trios Two
“Trios Two” is an incredible collection of four of the five trio combinations as were featured on John Adams’ “Trios” project (2006). Each trio, nimbly led by bassist and producer John Adams, stakes out its own unique musical “turf,” while the performers’ virtuosity, experience, passion, and creativity shines through.The listener will be drawn in to the interaction and energy of each of these exuberant live performances, where sometimes even laughter and mutual encouragement on the stage can be overheard. The arrangements of these stalwart standards range from thoroughly prepared written forms, to impromptu ideas being fleshed out corporately in real time..Aside from exceptional stylistic versatility and skills as a bassist, one of Adams’ best attributes as a band-leader is allowing each group to take shape based on the unique musical personalities of each performer.
One especially noteworthy aspect of “Trios Two” (and “Trios”) is the posthumous appearance of legendary saxman Marchel Ivery, who died in 2007. His fiery legacy in the “Texas Tenor” tradition lives on in these dazzling performances (“Bye Bye Blackbird,” & “Giant Steps” on this release, and “Good Bait” and “My Shining Hour” on the “Trios” project).
John & Mark’s Excellent Rock Adventure
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
John Adams: Trios
“These tracks were collected from live performances of five different combinations of my jazz trios at various venues, over a two-and-a-half year period. For all of the fun and musical thrills this CD presents, it is very close to my heart. Each of these combinations of trios is comprised of musicians whom I am honored to be on stage with, and to count among my friends.”– John Adams
“John Adams, in various trio settings, featuring the best of the best musicians from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, reworks some very familiar tunes like ‘All Blues’ and ‘Danny Boy’ and plunges them into some unfamiliar territory. In doing so, he breathes new life into them. Great playing by all concerned!”
– Randy Brecker
John Adams: With You In Mind
John Adams: Fly By Night
“’Fly By Night’ captures John’s “Quartet” playing live at Houston’s ‘Ovations’ club, and demonstrates his abilities not only as a bassist, but also as a band-leader and writer. ‘Fly By Night’ presents us with a beautiful set of music that has everything going for it… recorded live, but with great clarity, allowing the listener to hear every detail, and benefit from the spontaneity and intimacy that the club-setting affords.”– John Patitucci
John Adams: Jump Shot
Heralded by some as “one of the finest modern acoustic-jazz CDs,” John Adams’ CD “Jump Shot” highlights seven of his captivating jazz originals and unique arrangements of four standards and features New York Jazz Stars Marvin Stann & Warren Bernhardt.
JOHN ADAMS: JUMP SHOT (MUSIC STUDY BOOK)
This companion book to the “JUMP SHOT” CD by John Adams is designed with three main purposes:
1) to be a listening companion for the serious jazz listener to use with the CD
2) to provide good, clear lead-sheets of the seven John Adams originals that are recorded on “Jump Shot” to be used by intermediate to advanced jazz players for personal practice, rehearsals, jam sessions and performances of jazz groups they are in, and
3) to provide serious jazz students with some inspiration and insight into, and instruction on the processes of jazz composition and small-group arranging.
I remember the first time I found a publication of the music from a recording that I was interested in; it allowed me to access this music for my own enjoyment immediately. Later, as my listening skills improved, I realized that I could figure out much of what I was hearing on a recording. John Adams makes it clear in this book that an aspiring musician will benefit greatly by transcribing music from recordings. However, the opportunity to gain the composer’s insights into the music is invaluable and sheds a great deal of light on the true concept of the music and how it should be performed. More importantly, John’s suggestions for how to practice the tunes should help the student of improvisation realize more satisfaction from performing this music.
The music on this CD is on the leading edge but shows a solid sense of the jazz tradition; it is a delicate balance of the old and the new. Adams’ compositions are fresh and interesting and there is a nice selection of some jazz standards as well. Some of these compositions would be difficult for even an experienced musician to transcribe. Including the lead sheets in all transpositions in this book is a terrific resource for young layers. Plus, the opportunity to listen to the CD and then play the music is a special opportunity that is really conducive to learning.
I have performed some of John’s music and have found it both interesting and challenging. I have a feeling that this book will make it even easier for me to play well on these tunes!
Regents Professor of Music
Jazz Studies Division
College of Music
University of North Texas
The question may arise that since so much of the discussion contained within this book deals with conscious, analytical thoughts about and behind the music, what is (was) the place of spontaneity in the creating of it? Of course, writing of any kind, whether it be a book or tune, requires conscious, analytical thought. Any jazz teacher has encountered questions such as “Are you really thinking of all those scales and licks when you are improvising?” The same question applies to composing as well, though admittedly composing is taking place at a slower pace than improvised soloing. It has been widely observed that we are living in an increasingly anti-intellectual culture, and analytical thought in things like the arts that are supposed to be creative is often looked down upon. I would like to suggest that in good jazz, and in fact in all of human life, a variable balance of conscious and sub-conscious thought must take place, often varying within a performance or even within a single piece. Part of developing a skill of any kind to a high level involves a process of making something that at first requires a large amount of conscious thought and effort eventually become “automatic” or sub-conscious. In the history of jazz the entire gamut of the amount of musical structure has been employed, from near-classical, heavily orchestrated works for large ensembles to completely free, spontaneous solo improvisations by a single instrument. Is one better or harder than the other? My answer is that to a certain extent “unless you can do it you shouldn’t knock it.” Often in composing I have had the experience of having a conscious thought (such as “Maybe I should put this section I just sketched into the key that is implied in that second chord of the A section, instead of leaving it in this key”) lead my sub-conscious creativity into a discovery. My hope is that the conscious thoughts expressed in this book will help foster the creativity of the students of it.