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Asceticism--a portrait of jazz by Mark Adams

For those familiar with the sounds of "light" jazz, the new CD by Mark Adams Asceticism a portrait in jazz will certainly meet their expectations. The recording has all of the hallmarks of the jazzy pop sound that is quite popular with many listeners. Nine of the twelve tunes on the CD are originals by Adams, and all follow a very similar format and sound very consistent from one tune to the next. The bass lines consist of a R and B/Funk/Soul inspired sound that establishes an unchanging repetitive groove over which are layered synthesized and pre programmed sounds, percussion sounds, lush strings and solos that are melodically pretty, however not particularly challenging or witty to the ear of the listener. Keyboardist Dave Ernst also contributes two tunes and there is also one remix of Nat Adderly’s "The Work Song."

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.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Mark Adams
  • CD Title: Asceticism--a portrait of jazz
  • Genre: Smooth Jazz
  • Year Released: 2001
  • Record Label: MCC Recordings, Inc.
  • Tracks: Der Grune Mann, Song For My Mother, Colors, Free From Freedom, Free Day, Adams Apple, Remembering Breaux, Seeing In The Dark, Asceticism, Club Carib, Jazz That Funk, Work Song (Remix)
  • Musicians: Mark Adams (piano, keyboards, background vocals), Donald Nicks (bass), Dennis Davis (drums), Casey Benjamin (alto saxophone and EWI), Dave Ernst (keyboards), Dave Jones (bass), Stephen Roberson (drums), Ken Adams (flute and piccolo), Ashley Horne, Larissa Blitz, Stanley Hunte (violin), Yvonne Hicks (cello), Dominique Kanza (guitar), Michael Greaves (congas, background vocals), Hershelle Burton (vocals), Phillup Henry (guitar), Nick Morales (guitar), Charmaine Patterson (background vocals)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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