Not in Kansas Anymore

Ben Adams at Bay Street Beat Arts & Music Festival.

Vibraphonist Ben Adams says he entered the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music as an underdog, and made up for it by shedding for up to twelve hours a day — he’d stay in the practice rooms long after everyone else had left, wait for the security guard to walk by, and then jam until 2 or 3 a.m. It paid off. Now based in Berkeley, Adams has recorded three albums as a bandleader. His most recent effort (projected for August release) stars the woefully underappreciated free-jazz trombonist Grachan Moncur III, a Blue Note exile who never really got his due. Adams is by no means a traditionalist; in blog entries he cites John McLaughlin, Warren G, and the bleak Midwestern landscape as early influences, compares Wynton Marsalis’ oeuvre to “a musical strip mall” (ouch!), and offered his riposte to jazz critics who just don’t get it. He performs at the Bay Street Beat Arts & Music Festival in Emeryville on Sunday, July 15, with a quintet he’s training to behave more like a trio — i.e., with that same “responsiveness,” “looseness,” and “creativity.” Personnel include Mitch Marcus on tenor, Darren Johnson on trumpet, Fred Randolph on bass, and Eric Garland on drums. The free show starts at 1:45 p.m.


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