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Greg Adams: Cool to the Touch

Bay Area native and trumpeter Greg Adams helped define Tower of Power’s wall-of-horns sound with his arranging. He’s guested on hundreds of CDs and even offered a few solo CDs. So it’s heartening to report that now, at age 54, he’s released his most compelling and fun CD to date. Sure, he’s a polished professional who knows how to put together upbeat and smooth instrumental pop with a brassy edge. But the hipness and beginning-to-end goodness of this project is in large part due to Adams’ return to his independent roots after resurrecting Los Angeles-based Ripa Records, which he cofounded in 2002.

From the title and slyly named tracks like “It’s Only Love, Love” and “Hi-Fi,” it’s clear that the trumpeter’s goal was to create new tunes from a groovy ’60s template. On “Felix the Cat” and the title track, he enlisted four sax heavies to create the Tower-like assault: Mindi Abair, Richard Elliot, Boney James and Eric Marienthal. Cool stuff, but the pop gems focusing on Adams’ solos are better, such as the lazy-cool “Hi-Fi” and “Hermosa.” But “One Night in Rio” rises above all to really liberate the essence of ’60s Brazilian cool as typified by Herb Alpert. Not all is slick, though, as Adams turns away from structure to embrace chaos on “Bongo Baby” and “Life in the Key of Blue.”

Originally Published