Adams demonstrates some excellent pianistic technique and familiarity with classical music sounds. Of particular note is the second tune on the CD, "Song for my Mother" which opens with Adams playing a fine imitation of Johann Sebastian Bach. Adams at other times also shows glimmers of improvisatory brilliance. These moments are however, too far and few between rather clichéd licks that provide no surprises to the listener’s imagination. One might even query as to why Adams, who does show some signs of musical depth, would devote his efforts to music that, while nice to listen to, is not particularly profound nor of high artistic merit. Also of some annoyance are the fadeouts at the ends of too many tunes that come across to the listener as some uncreative formulaic resolution to the composer running out of musical ideas.
The music on Asceticism a portrait in jazz contains competent musicianship, occasional musical insight, and sounds that do delight the ear. Adams is a good pianist and he has created some very nice music that will be of great interest to the listener whose tastes are geared toward smooth music. To the serious musician and aficionado of jazz, the level of interest in Adam’s CD very well may be relegated to being no more than a recorded soundtrack of some fern bar, waiting room, or elevator.